Independent Prescribing Professional
Independent Prescribing Professional

What is a designated prescribing professional?

A Designated Prescribing Professional (DPP) in Great Britain or Northern Ireland is a healthcare professional with legal independent prescribing rights. They oversee and supervise another healthcare professional who is undergoing training in independent prescribing (IP). The DPP’s role involves guiding the trainee through their prescribing course, offering support, and assessing their competency to prescribe safely and effectively. Ultimately, the DPP provides the final approval or “sign-off” on the trainee’s readiness to independently prescribe medications. This ensures that prescribing practices meet the necessary standards and safeguard patient safety.

Who needs a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP)

A Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) is required for pharmacists undergoing independent prescribing training, as mandated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). This individual assumes overall responsibility for supervising the trainee pharmacist and assessing their suitability for independent prescribing annotation on their professional register.

With the forthcoming Initial Education and Training of Pharmacists (IETP) Reforms set to take effect around 2025/2026, trainee pharmacists will also need both a DPP and a Designated Supervisor (DS) during their foundation training year. It’s worth noting that the DS and DPP roles can overlap if the individual possesses the appropriate qualifications to fulfill both positions.

What are the responsibilities of a Designated Prescribing Practitioner?

The specific duties of a Designated Prescribing Practitioner (DPP) may vary depending on the prescribing course, hence it’s recommended to discuss these obligations with the course provider. However, in general, the role of a DPP involves:

  1. Providing Access to Clinical Experience: Facilitating entry into a suitable clinical setting where the learner can engage in patient-facing activities to practice prescribing skills, including consultation and clinical assessment.
  2. Supervising Practice: Offering supervision, guidance, and feedback throughout the learning period in clinical settings to aid the learner in acquiring the necessary skills for competent prescribing. This includes honing consultation, clinical decision-making, and assessment abilities. Typically, the learner spends 90 hours under direct supervision during the course, typically spanning six months. The precise number of hours the DPP is required to supervise may vary (usually between 10 to 90 hours, often falling within the range of 45 to 60 hours), subject to the policies of the course provider. Note: This is subject to change with the implementation of the IETP Reforms.
  3. Multi-Professional Supervision: Assisting and facilitating the supervision of the learner’s practice by other qualified independent prescribers.
  4. Assessment: Monitoring and evaluating the learner’s practice against the prescribing scope and course criteria. This involves completing necessary documentation as specified by the course provider and participating in tripartite meetings (involving the learner and the course provider) approximately three times during the training period.
  5. Ensuring Accountability: Upholding responsibility for the safety and efficacy of patient care throughout the learner’s practical training period.
  6. Ensuring Competency: Affirming that the learner has fulfilled the required practice hours, achieved the prescribed level of competency set by the course provider, and is deemed suitable for annotation as an independent prescriber by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

What are the qualifications needed to become a Designated Prescribing Practitioner?

Typically, course providers adhere to the RPS Competency Framework for Designated Prescribing Practitioners when outlining the prerequisites for a DPP role. However, the specific criteria can vary among providers, so it’s advisable to engage in thorough discussions with them.

In general, a DPP should:

  • Possess current professional registration and engage in prescribing activities within their practice scope.
  • Demonstrate substantial experience as an Independent Prescriber, typically with a minimum of three years of recent prescribing practice.
  • Actively engage in prescribing decisions based on clinical assessments with sufficient regularity to sustain competence.
  • Hold relevant knowledge and experience pertinent to the learner’s clinical practice scope.
  • Present evidence of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) or revalidation activities relevant to their role.
  • Acquire experience or training in teaching and/or supervisory duties within clinical settings.
  • Occupy a patient-facing role.

It’s important to note that these prerequisites might undergo revisions in anticipation of the forthcoming reforms in the Initial Education and Training of Pharmacists, scheduled for implementation around 2025/2026.

What are the benefits of becoming a Designated Prescribing Professional?

In response to the growing demand for enhanced clinical skills within the pharmacy sector, particularly in prescribing, there’s a compelling need to equip the workforce with the necessary capabilities to cater to patients’ needs across various settings. This includes ensuring readiness in primary care, particularly in community pharmacies, to offer clinical services that may entail prescribing, as highlighted in the Pharmacy Integration Programme.

By becoming eligible for the role of a DPP, you’ve acquired the essential prescribing skills and gained invaluable experience working directly with patients in this capacity. Now, you have the opportunity to share your expertise with colleagues who are in the same position you once were, guiding them toward delivering excellent patient care.

Formerly, non-medical prescribers (NMPs) were required to direct colleagues to a doctor for the DPP role. However, now, as an independent prescriber, you are uniquely positioned to support and supervise non-medical professionals in independent prescribing.

Your supervision plays a crucial role in enhancing the prescribing capacity of the current workforce, thereby fostering the development of future DPPs. Moreover, mentoring learners contributes to your personal and professional growth, keeping your knowledge and skills current and aligning you with the latest healthcare advancements.

Supervising prescribing learners not only enhances your own prescribing practice but also contributes to the leadership and education aspects of advanced practice. Ultimately, it plays a vital role in shaping the delivery of NHS services at the frontline.

Explore the shared resources below, where current DPPs share their firsthand experiences and insights into the role.