Medicines management and prescribing

Information for nurses and midwives in applying our medicines management and prescribing standards in practice

Medicines management and prescribing in the UK are governed by a complex framework, comprised of legislation, policy and standards, of which our regulatory standards are only one part. Our Standards for medicines management make it clear that it will be necessary for nurses and midwives to refer to local and national policies. We continue to work with relevant agencies to ensure that public protection in medicines management and prescribing is maintained and that nurses and midwives are directed to other sources of help where appropriate. Some of these are listed in our further information below.

These circulars should be read alongside Standards for medicines management:

Prescribing by nurses and midwives

In order to prescribe medicinal products, nurses and midwives must have recorded their prescriber qualification on the NMC register. There are two types of nurse prescriber : 
         1. Community nurse prescriber
         2. Independent and supplementary nurse and midwife prescriber
Our standards for education for prescribers and standards for prescribing practice are set out in Standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers

These circulars should be read alongside Standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers

  • NMC Circular 07/2011 | Annexe 1 [PDF] 
    First published: June 2011
    Updates certain exemptions for midwives and student midwives in relation to administrating medicines
  • NMC circular 04/2010 [PDF]
    First published: March 2010
    Nurse and midwife independent prescribing of unlicensed medicines
  • NMC circular 03/2010
    First published: March 2010
    Unlicensed medicines - changes to the indicative content of the independent and supplementary nurse prescribing programme - V300
  • NMC circular 02/2009 | Annexe 1 [PDF]
    First published: 18 February 2009
    Standards of educational preparation for Prescribing from the Community Nurse Prescribers Formulary for nurses without a Specialist Practitioner Qualification – V150
    (Replaced NMC circular 38/2007)
  • Remote prescribing and injectable cosmetic medicinal products
  • NMC circular 31/2007 [PDF] - updated 29 October 07
    First published: 4 October 2007 (under review)
    Integrated V100 prescribing within specialist community public health nursing programmes and SPQ district nurse upload
  • NMC circular 30/2007 [PDF] - updated 29 October 07
    First published: 4 October 2007 (under review)
    Additional requirements to include within the indicative content of nurse independent prescribing education and training programmes
  • NMC circular 29/2007 [PDF] - updated 29 October 07
    First published: 4 October 2007 (under review)
    Strengthened requirements on Criminal Records Bureau checks for eligibility to undertake preparation to prescribe as a nurse independent prescriber
  • NMC circular 22/2007 [PDF] - updated 9/11/07
    First published: 20 August 2007 (under review)
    NMC Prescribing for children and young people
  • NMC circular 10/2007 [PDF]
    First published: 2 April 2007
    Additional requirements to include within the Indicative Content of Nurse Independent Prescribing education and training programmes

Further information

Controlled Drugs
The Home Office is the government department responsible for licensing and regulation of controlled drugs under misuse of drugs regulations in England, Scotland and Wales and can be found at:

In Northern Ireland it is the Department of Health, Social Science and Public Safety (Northern Ireland); who have that responsibility and can be found at:

The NICE Medicines and Prescribing Centre provide resources which aim to support healthcare professionals and organisations in the safe and effective use of controlled drugs, and includes links to policy guidance:

Cosmetic injectables
Only those nurses who are independent prescribers may prescribe cosmetic injectables that are licensed medicinal products. The Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have produced some FAQs around cosmetic injectables.

Treatments you can Trust is a Department of Health backed register of regulated cosmetic injectable providers managed by the Independent Healthcare Advisory Service (IHAS) primarily aimed at providers who are not otherwise regulated.

Medicines management in anaphylaxis
The Resuscitation Council (UK) have produced some policy information.

Medicines legislation 
The Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) provide information about medicines legislation and regulation in the UK.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which significantly simplify medicines legislation while maintaining effective safeguards for public health, came into force in August 2012. The regulations replace much of the Medicines Act 1968, repealing various areas of obsolete law in the process. They also introduce some small policy changes to ensure the legislation remains fit for purpose and reflects modern practice.

Medicines and prescribing policy
Each of the four UK country government departments set out policy requirements, good practice guides and FAQs in relation to medicines management and prescribing. These may be downloaded from their websites.

Medicines use
The British National Formulary aims to provide prescribers, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals with up to date information about the use of medicines.

Patient Group Directions
The NHS Patient Group Directions (PGD) website. provides information about the legal framework, decision making, and practice issues around PGDs.

Prescribing
The NICE Medicines and Prescribing Centre provides information about prescribing and patient group directions.

Medicines and Prescribing policy

Local pharmacy clinical guidelines or policies

Nurses and midwives will have access to evidence and clinical guidelines for prescribing and administration at a local level which will be tailored to local commissioning needs. Access to the British National Formulary is gained through the local Chief Pharmacist.

Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)

SMC is the Scottish organisation that provides advice for new medicines or new formulations of medicines.

Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN)

SIGN is the Scottish multi-professional network that produces good practice guidelines to improve the health of the nation.