Consultant Nurse Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds and Jan Thirkettle, Consultant Nurses at St Christopher’s Hospice in south east London, write about launching a new learning resource to support nurse prescribers.
It’s more than 30 years since nurses were first given the power to prescribe medication. Now, more than 50,000 non-medical prescribers including nurses, midwives, pharmacists and physiotherapists prescribe millions of items every year. The south London communities St Christopher’s Hospice serves have, like the rest of the UK, benefited from this sizeable cohort of additional professionals trained and able to prescribe.
Supporting the nursing community
Given the increased involvement of non-medical prescribers in the care of people approaching the end of life, in both outpatient and inpatient settings, we started thinking about how we could support this wider professional community to deliver the best possible care for this patient group, based on our own positive experience of shared knowledge, practice and skills. Our experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us how to connect and think more creatively about how we support one another into the future, and learning through the experiences of others is hugely valuable.
In June we hosted a webinar aimed at non-medical prescribers, designed to tackle the specific challenges they can face when caring for people at the end of life. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and in November we’re excited to launch a community of learning tailored exclusively to this substantial and critical group of professionals.
Nurses and allied health professionals will be able to come together virtually once a month, to tackle specific prescribing challenges including pain management in palliative care, issues for patients with heart failure, and for older adults and those with a frailty diagnosis.
The sessions will capitalise on the unique mixture of clinical expertise that we have in this field here at St Christopher’s, and the frontline experience of practitioners, dealing with patients in their own setting. The format will feature a presentation led by a clinical expert followed by two shorter presentations from members of the community. These could be a reflection on a prescribing issue, a presentation on something relevant to their organisation’s practice or governance relating to prescribing, or a specific case study, along with time for discussion and Q&A.
Crucially, as a community of learning, we won’t be deciding all of the topics and issues for discussion. Rather, we’ll call on the community to dictate the agenda, helping to build the ten-session, year-long programme to meet the needs of its members and consequently their patients. To get the ball rolling, we have mapped out the first three sessions. These will focus on pain management, breathlessness management and prescribing for seizure prevention and management.
We’ll record all of the sessions so that anyone missing one or joining the community part way through the year can catch up in their own time. The beauty of our Online Learning Platform is that it’ll be home to a library of useful documents, reference materials and resources relevant to the discussion topics.
- For more information and to sign up visit St Christopher’s – Non-medical prescribers community
- To find out about Hospice UK’s clinical communities of practice visit Hospice UK – Clinical care and support