The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has changed its stance on the separation of prescribing and dispensing, now accepting that both can be done by the same healthcare professional.

The RPS said its new position had been formulated in response to changing practices in healthcare.

The society’s previous guidance had emphasised the need for separation of prescribing and dispensing, other than in exceptional circumstances, based on a 1999 Crown Report.

A new position statement has been published, along with supporting professional guidance developed jointly with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The statement recognises that independent prescribers across all professions already prescribe and supply or administer medicines for the same patient, and that being unable to do so would potentially have a negative impact on patient experience and care.

According to the RPS, a risk assessment should be conducted to establish if prescribing, dispensing and supply or administration of medicines by the same person is in the best interests of the patient.

The society also advises that a ‘robust audit trail’ of decisions should be made, and the actions taken should be communicated with other professionals supporting the patient’s care.

The RPS said the new position was agreed following a year-long engagement exercise with medical associations, members, fellows, expert advisory groups, patient groups and the RPS country boards.

Professor Claire Anderson, RPS president, said: ‘Following a consultation with a prescribing pharmacist, a patient may be asked to go to a different pharmacy to have the medicine dispensed, which may not be practical and may also delay or prevent patients who are unwell from getting the medicines they need quickly.

‘Our revised position acknowledges the changing landscape of education, training and practice related to prescribing and aims to address the needs of an increasingly diverse and dynamic healthcare system.’

She added: ‘Allowing flexibility in prescribing and dispensing practices ensures that patient safety remains paramount while adapting to rapidly changing healthcare practice.’

According to Heather Randle, the RCN’s UK nursing professional lead for primary care, the more flexible approach ‘aligns with the evolving roles of nurses and patient-centred care’.

She added: ‘As we navigate these changes, the new guidance will ensure that best practice remains at the heart of patient care and safety.’