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An evaluation of team and individual formularies to support independent prescribing in mental health care


D. Dobel-Ober, Research and Development Department, South Staffordshire & Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust, Block 7, Corporation Street, Stafford ST16 3AG, UK, E-mail:


Accessible summary

  • • A growing number of mental heath nurses have trained to become non-medical prescribers but many of them have not actually taken this new role once qualified.
  • • Individual or team formularies can help reduce uncertainty about what each nurse can prescribe and can therefore increase their confidence and willingness to take up new prescribing responsibilities.
  • • Formularies can also be used to enhance communication about medication with service users and promote their involvement in decision making about their own treatment.


Mental health nurses have been entitled to train to become independent prescribers since May 2006; although the number of trained nurse prescribers seems to have increased steadily, a significant number of them have not actually undertaken prescribing roles on completion of their training or have limited their practice to supplementary prescribing. In order to support existing independent prescribers and to assist those nurses who have trained but are yet to prescribe independently, a mental health trust has piloted the use of individual and team formularies. An evaluation of this project indicated that formularies were well received by existing independent prescribers and were seen as a helpful instrument to support newly qualified and supplementary prescribers in their bid to become independent. Formularies can clarify and formalize each prescriber's area of competence, thus setting clear boundaries, reducing uncertainty and enhancing prescribers' confidence and willingness to take on this new role. Formularies may also be used to enhance communication with service users and further develop shared decision making. Effective procedures need to be in place to ensure formularies are up to date and reflect local practice.