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Funds shortage hits nurse prescribing

Extended nurse prescribing goes on line this week with the Government way off its target of recruiting 10,000 nurses to its controversial scheme by the end of next year.

Latest figures show there were just 1,400 nurses in December 2002 trained or in training to prescribe from the extended formulary.

The scheme kicks off on Friday amid condemnation of proposals to include more

antibiotics and the NSAID

diclofenac.

GPC prescribing chair Dr Peter Fellows blamed inadequate Government funding for the lack of recruits.

Dr Fellows, a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, said: 'GPs need funding to enable nurses to take on this role. The Government has got to pay for nurses to be released for training, which it is still not prepared to do. We can't afford to lose our nurses.'

Nurses joining the scheme must undergo 25 days' training and 12 days' mentoring by a medical practitioner.

Once trained, they can prescribe from an extended formulary including nine systemic antibiotics and all general sales list and pharmacy medicines excluding controlled drugs.

The Department of Health has allotted £10 million for the scheme, channelled through local NHS workforce development confederations, with no money ring-fenced for GP mentors.

Sheffield LMC warned in a newsletter this month: 'The benefits to GPs of extended nurse prescribing are far outweighed by the extra burden of work for GPs, without any significant financial benefit.'

A department spokesman said the Government was confident it would meet the nurse recruitment target.

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