Roles of the non-medical prescribing leads within organisations across a Strategic Health Authority: perceived functions and factors supporting the role
Dr Rosemary Hwee Mei Lim, 34 Rydes Avenue, Guildford GU2 9SR, UK.
Extending the roles of nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals to include prescribing has been identified as one way of improving service provision. In the UK, over 50 000 non-medical healthcare professionals are now qualified to prescribe. Implementation of non-medical prescribing ( NMP) is crucial to realise the potential return on investment. The UK Department of Health recommends a NMP lead to be responsible for the implementation of NMP within organisations. The aim of this study was to explore the role of NMP leads in organisations across one Strategic Health Authority (SHA) and to inform future planning with regards to the criteria for those adopting this role, the scope of the role and factors enabling the successful execution of the role.
Thirty-nine NMP leads across one SHA were approached. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted. Issues explored included the perceived role of the NMP lead, safety and clinical governance procedures and facilitators to the role. Transcribed audiotapes were coded and analysed using thematic analytical techniques.
In total, 27/39 (69.2%) NMP leads were interviewed. The findings highlight the key role that the NMP lead plays with regards to the support and development of NMP within National Health Service trusts. Processes used to appoint NMP leads lacked clarity and varied between trusts. Only two NMP leads had designated or protected time for their role. Strategic influence, operational management and clinical governance were identified as key functions. Factors that supported the role included organisational support, level of influence and dedicated time.
The NMP lead plays a significant role in the development and implementation of NMP. Clear national guidance is needed with regards to the functions of this role, the necessary attributes for individuals recruited into this post and the time that should be designated to it. This is important as prescribing is extended to include other groups of non-medical healthcare professionals.