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Plans for nurses to supply morphine

The Government is pushing for a further expansion of non-medical prescribing, with proposals to allow all nurses and pharmacists to supply and administer morphine.

Ministers are also consulting on plans to hand non-medical prescribers access to all controlled drugs. Currently nurses can only prescribe 12 controlled drugs and pharmacists none.

Doctors have already condemned the proposals as dangerous and 'cheap cost-cutting', designed to allow the use of nurses and pharmacists in roles that require highly trained medical professionals.

The two consultations suggest changes to increase the prescribing of morphine and diamorphine by all nurses and pharmacists under patient group directions, and expansion in the range of controlled drugs available to independent prescribers.

Health minister Lord Hunt insisted the proposals would not compromise safety. 'The proposed changes will allow nurses and pharmacists to give pain relief quickly and safely to patients who need it,' he said.

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing subcommittee, said some nurses and hospital pharmacists were in a position where they could prescribe

controlled drugs safely, but a blanket expansion to all non-medical prescribers was wrong. 'It should not happen,' he said.

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