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To be a prescriber means to have the legal authority to issue prescriptions. In practice, prescribing is a complex clinical skill. Only some of our registered professions can train to become prescribers

To become prescribers, registrants in these professions must have successfully completed an approved education programme in prescribing. Further detail is set out in our Standards for prescribing. They must also have an annotation (mark) on their record on the Register.

There are two different types of prescribing available to allied health professionals.

Independent prescribing is prescribing by a practitioner, who is responsible and accountable for the assessment of service users with undiagnosed or diagnosed conditions and for decisions about the clinical management required.

An independent prescriber is able to prescribe on their own initiative any medicine within their scope of practice and relevant legislation.

A supplementary prescriber is a voluntary partnership between a doctor or dentist and a supplementary prescriber to prescribe within an agreed service user-specific clinical management plan (CMP). This is a written plan agreed between a doctor or dentist and a supplementary prescriber for the treatment of a named service user, with the knowledge and agreement of the service user and/or carer. The plan outlines the illnesses or conditions that may be treated by the supplementary prescriber, the types of medicines they may prescribe any limits to the strength or dose of medicines that they may prescribe.

Once qualified a supplementary prescriber may prescribe any medicine within their clinical competence, within the limits of the CMP.

Prescribing unlicensed medicines

Registrants who are independent prescribers cannot prescribe unlicensed medicines. Only doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists are able to independently prescribe unlicensed medicines.

Registrants who are supplementary prescribers can prescribe unlicensed medicines, but only in accordance with the patient's clinical management plan.  

For more information, please contact the MHRA – the UK medicines regulator.

Page updated on: 25/03/2021