Nurses prescribing accounted for 51% of all non-medical prescribing in 2021, a new report has revealed.
The CQC document, ‘Safer management of controlled drugs: Annual update 2021’, found nurses – including nurse independent prescribers and community practitioner nurses – prescribed 2,427,897 items last year.
This represents a rise of 8%, up from 2,249,114 items prescribed in 2020, and accounts for just over half of all non-medical prescribing.
The analysis also found prescribing of controlled drugs by non-medical prescribers increased for all professional groups by 14% – from 4,215,881 items prescribed in 2020 to 4,799,328 items in 2021.
Pharmacists were the second-largest non-medical prescribing group, accounting for almost 49% of all non-medical prescribing in 2021, with 2,361,921 items prescribed by pharmacists last year compared to 1,962,615 in 2020.
In 2017, pharmacists accounted for only 29% of non-medical prescribing (487,036 items), the report says, but ‘pharmacist prescribers are increasingly working in GP practices and primary care networks’.
The data also showed small numbers of non-medical prescriptions by paramedics (up by 153%), podiatrists (up by 152%), radiographers (up by 140%) and physiotherapists (up by 26%) – although these did not show in the overall percentages when rounded.
The report also highlights an Opioid Prescribing Comparators dashboard that was released in May, aiming to help prescribers improve care and reduce harm for patients taking opioids to manage chronic non-cancer pain.
The benefits of the dashboard include that it will ‘enable GPs, pharmacy professionals and other healthcare professionals to identify problematic opioid prescribing issues in a locality, and understand more about these issues, including how many patients are taking opioids, enabling a more targeted response,’ the CQC said.