• community health nursing;
  • hierarchy;
  • nursing research;
  • public sector;
  • social control

Fisher R. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 579–585 Nurse prescribing: A vehicle for improved collaboration, or a stumbling block to inter-professional working?

Prescribing by community nurses is established practice in the UK National Health Service. Although much has been written about the technical aspects of prescribing, little published work addresses the ways in which prescribing might affect relationships. Part of a PhD project set in southern England, this ethnographic project used semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of district nurses (n = 17), staff nurses (n = 4), pharmacists (n = 2) and a general practitioner to investigate the real world of nurse prescribing. Using theories of domination, power and legitimacy from Weber and Foucault, this paper sets out to demonstrate that despite government efforts to encourage collaborative working, power relationships still play an important part in some areas of practice. Analysis, building from Morrell's notion of naïve functionalism, reveals strategies used by actors in community practice to manage such relationships.