Many independent and supplementary prescribers, particularly those who were among the first to qualify, will be very familiar with the prescribing competency frameworks developed by the National Prescribing Centre (NPC) from 2001–2006. The frameworks, published by the NPC, were, for the most part, commissioned by the Department of Health as part of a national programme to support the introduction of non-medical prescribing.
As independent and supplementary prescribing rolled out across a range of health-care professions, individual prescribing competency frameworks were developed to support each group of new prescribers; nurses and midwives1, pharmacists2 , optometrists3 and allied health professionals4 were all supported by their own prescribing competency frameworks at the beginning of this exciting development in health-care practice.
Once developed, the frameworks were applied extensively in practice and used to underpin the development of curricula of approved education programmes and to facilitate ongoing continuing professional development of individual prescribers.
After several years of practical use of the frameworks and the cumulative experience of developing them, it became apparent that, regardless of professional background, there is a common set of competencies associated with good prescribing. As a result, in 2012, work was undertaken to consolidate and update the existing profession-specific competency frameworks, providing just one universal prescribing competency framework5. The resulting single competency framework can be used by all prescribers regardless of their professional background; it applies equally to doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, optometrists and allied health professionals. It provides a common base on which the prescribing professions can build support for any prescriber.
The single framework was due for review in May 2014; however, in April 2011, the NPC integrated into the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to become the Medicines and Prescribing Centre. NICE is not planning to update the framework but will instead incorporate the principles it contains into its medicines optimization guideline, NG56.
It is, however, clear that the competency framework continues to be extensively used by existing prescribers, as well as many higher education institutes providing training for new prescribers. There also remains a need to support new professional groups as they begin the journey to becoming prescribers, and it is crucial that the principle of a common set of competencies for all prescribing remains. NICE and Health Education England have therefore asked the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the professional body for pharmacists, to manage the update of the competency framework on behalf of all prescribing professions.
The framework will be updated using a process consistent with that used for the previous competency frameworks. Work will begin with a programme of engagement with a view to starting the updating process later in 2015. It is expected that the new framework will be available from June 2016, and it will be applicable across the UK.
During the update of the competency framework, the RPS is keen to engage with prescribers from all professional groups. It will be running several focus groups, with prescribers and patients, to user-test the updated framework. At the same time, for anyone who is interested in staying up to date with the process, the RPS is creating an external reference network of interested parties. This network will meet three times over the duration of the project to receive updates on progress, and, importantly, to share ideas on how the updated framework may be supported by all professions once it has been launched.
Any prescriber who is interested in volunteering to attend a focus group or would like to join the reference network, should contact Catherine Picton, consultant and lead author at the RPS,
1.National Prescribing Centre (2001) Maintaining competency in prescribing: An outline framework to help nurse prescribers. NPC, Liverpool.
2.National Prescribing Centre (2006) Maintaining competency in prescribing: An outline framework to help pharmacist prescribers. 2nd edn. NPC, Liverpool.
3.National Prescribing Centre (2004a) Competency framework for prescribing optometrists.
4.National Prescribing Centre (2004b) Maintaining competency in prescribing: An outline framework to help allied health professional supplementary prescribers. NPC, Liverpool.
5. National Prescribing Centre (2012) A single competency framework for all prescribers. http://tinyurl.com/o3a2ta8 (accessed 14 July 2015).
6.National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2015) Medicines optimization: The safe and effective use of medicines to enable the best possible outcomes. NG5. ww.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng5 (accessed 14 July 2015).
7.National Prescribing Centre (2006) Maintaining competency in prescribing: An outline framework to help pharmacist prescribers. 2nd edn. NPC, Liverpool.
This article was originally published in Nurse Prescribing at: http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/10.12968/npre.2015.13.8.376