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Keywords:

  • mental health;
  • non-medical prescribing;
  • nurse prescribing;
  • professional practice;
  • service user views

Accessible summary

  • • 
    Prescribing medication used to be the role of the doctor, but in recent years nurses have begun to prescribe following training and supervision.
  • • 
    In this single case study from one NHS Trust, we conducted interviews to look at the views of a practising and non-practising prescriber to understand and compare their experiences of prescribing in mental health, and also the views of service users receiving this care in the community.
  • • 
    Service users reported that receiving their medication from a nurse was more convenient and less stressful, an issue of particular importance for helping their mental health. The practising nurse prescriber described her experiences and felt she had a good structure of supervision and support from the team. Reasons why trained nurse prescribers may not be practising are discussed, with suggestions for future developments and guidance given.
  • • 
    Nurse prescribing appears to work well in a specialist mental health setting when carried out in a supported and structured way. Offering choice was important; however, for some service users, information about why medication may be helpful was still needed.

Abstract

Non-medical prescribing is a relatively new competency that appears to benefit both service users and health professionals alike. However, little is known about its use in mental health settings. This single case study in one UK National Health Service (NHS) Trust aimed to look at these views and consider how the role can be developed further in light of this. Six service users and two nurses trained in nurse prescribing were individually interviewed. One trained nurse had been prescribing for the last 3 years; the other was trained but had never practised. Service users reported that nurse prescribing was more convenient and less anxiety provoking, an issue of particular importance for optimizing mental health services. Offering choice was deemed important; however, for some service users, information about why medication may be beneficial was highlighted as an unmet need in the prescribing process. The practising nurse prescriber described her experiences and credited a good structure of supervision and support from the team. Reasons why trained nurse prescribers may not be practising are discussed, with suggestions for future developments and guidance. This competence appears to work well in a mental health setting when conducted in a supported and structured way.