• children and young people;
  • hospital doctors;
  • nurses;
  • nurse prescribing;
  • nursing;
  • qualitative approach

Aim.  To explore the views of doctors and clinical leads (CLs), who care for children and young people, on nurse prescribing in one specialist children’s hospital.

Background.  Nearly 14,000 nurses in the UK have virtually the same prescribing rights as doctors. Benefits of nurses adopting this role have been reported, but doctors do have some concerns. Increasing numbers of specialist nurses involved in the care of children in the hospital setting are undertaking prescribing training. No research has explored the views of health care professionals on nurse prescribing in this setting.

Design.  A subset of qualitative data taken from a larger study that adopted an intrinsic case study design.

Method.  Interviews were conducted between October 2006–July 2007 with 11 doctors and three clinical leads in one specialist children’s hospital. A thematic analysis was conducted on the interview data.

Results.  Nurse prescribing improved access to medicines and continuity of care. Concerns included the need for doctors to have confidence in the ability of the nurse who wanted to become a prescriber, the selection of nurses for prescribing training, the effects of nurse prescribing on the individual roles and responsibilities of doctors and nurses’ clinical skills.

Conclusion.  Doctors and clinical leads working in a specialist children’s hospital in the UK recognise that nurse prescribing makes a positive contribution to the delivery of services. However, it is important that nurses have the appropriate clinical skills and doctors understand nurse prescribing. This will only take place if there is good communication across professional boundaries.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Selection processes for the prescribing programmes must ensure that students have the necessary course prerequisites. Communication across professional boundaries is crucial to the successful implementation of nurse prescribing in the care of children and young people in the hospital setting.