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Health and Social Care Act 2001

Section 63: Extension of prescribing rights

321.Section 63 introduces new arrangements for the prescribing of medicines. Currently doctors, dentists and certain specified nurses, health visitors and midwives are authorised to prescribe prescription only medicines for human use. The Review of Prescribing, Supply and Administration of Medicines recommended the extension of prescribing rights to other health professionals.

322.Section 63 amends section 58 of the Medicines Act 1968 which governs the sale, supply and administration of prescription only medicinal products both privately and within the NHS. New subsection (1)(e) enables new registered professional groups to be designated by order for the purpose of prescribing such medicines for human use. For example, physiotherapists may be given prescribing rights for certain drugs e.g. anti- inflammatories. One of the effects of this policy might be to remove the need for routine visits to the GP for continuing care.

323.Subsection (3) provides that the categories of persons who may be granted prescribing rights must be registered health professionals. It includes provision to ensure that health professionals regulated by statute under separate Scottish and Northern Irish legislation will have the same potential right to prescribe.

324.Subsection (5) allows Ministers to provide by order that specified descriptions of appropriate practitioner designated under subsection (1)(e) of section 58 of the Medicines Act 1968 (or nurses, midwives or health visitors designated under subsection (1)(d)) must comply with specified conditions relating to the circumstances of prescribing which may apply to appropriate practitioners .

325.Subsection (7) makes it an offence for a person to prescribe a medicinal product in contravention of a condition imposed under subsection (4A) of section 58 or to prescribe a medicinal product for which he is not an appropriate practitioner.

326.Subsection (8) enables the Secretary of State to establish an advisory body under section 4 of the Medicines Act 1968 , to consider whether prescribing rights should be granted to any additional group of health professionals and to advise on any conditions or limitations that should be applied to their prescribing, prior to the Section coming into force.

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