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Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend the right to prescribe medicines. [107751]

We have already taken a number of steps to extend responsibilities for prescribing medicines at National Health Service expense in England.Over 23,000 nurses with a district nurse or health visitor qualification are able to prescribe from a limited formulary designed to meet the needs of their patients.Since April 2002, many nurses have also been able to prescribe an extended range of medicines, designed to enable them to treat a broader range of medical conditions.From 4 April 2003, we have introduced supplementary prescribing for nurses and pharmacists, in accordance with a patient-specific clinical management plan, drawn up in agreement with and following diagnosis by a doctor.Ministerial colleagues are now considering how to take forward the extension of prescribing responsibilities for some allied health professions and optometrists.