Pharmacist prescribers

Legislation came into effect in April 2003 and May 2006 to allow supplementary and independent prescribing by pharmacists, respectively, and there are now currently 2,049 independent prescribers and 1,431 supplementary prescribers on the General Pharmaceutical Council register. This year saw a significant development for independent pharmacist prescribers; legislation was passed to allow independent pharmacist prescribers to prescribe, administer and give directions for the administration of schedule 2, 3, 4 and 5 controlled drugs (except diamorphine, dipipanone or cocaine for treatment of addiction).

We are here to support our members in their development, providing them with accessible and recognisable ways to develop and advance themselves, their practice and their services. This section will provide you information about pharmacist prescribers and prescribing, how to qualify as a prescriber, details of training courses and signpost existing prescribers to key documents that will be relevant to their daily practice, whether that be primary care, hospital or the community sector.

How to become a pharmacist prescriber How to become a pharmacist prescriber

What do pharmacist prescribers do?

Is prescribing right for you?
The following discusses the role and responsibilities of pharmacist prescribers and may help you decide if prescribing is right for you:
  • Pharmacist independent prescribing in primary care and out-of-hours care
  • Opportunities to innovate, increase productivity and drive efficiency by using non-medical prescribing when commissioning for service delivery - NHS Yorkshire and the Humber

Types of prescribing

Pharmacist prescribers are pharmacists who have completed an accredited course to allow them to prescribe medicines.

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

A Pharmacist Independent Prescriber (PIP) can prescribe any medicine within their clinical competence.

Supplementary prescribing is a voluntary partnership between a doctor or dentist and a supplementary prescriber to prescribe within an agreed patient-specific clinical management plan (CMP) with the patient’s agreement.

A Pharmacist Supplementary Prescriber (SP) may prescribe any medicine within their clinical competence, according to the CMP.

What can pharmacist prescribers prescribe?
The table below is a brief summary of what pharmacists prescribers can prescribe

  Pharmacist Independent Prescriber (PIP) Supplementary Prescriber (SP)
Controlled Drugs Can prescribe controlled drugs, except diamorphine, dipipanone or cocaine for treatment of addiction Can prescribe controlled drugs covered by the clinical management plan
Unlicensed medicines Can prescribe unlicensed medicines provided they are competent and take responsibility for doing so Can prescribe any unlicensed medicine covered by the clinical management plan
Off-label/off-licence prescribing Can prescribe off-label/off-licence medicines (and should only prescribe where it is best practice to do so) and must take full clinical and professional responsibility for their prescribing Can prescribe any off-label/off-licence medicine covered by the clinical management plan
Private prescribing Can issue private prescriptions for any medicine within their competence Can issue private prescriptions for any medicine covered by the clinical management plan


In order to qualify as a pharmacist independent prescriber you would need to complete a programme that has been accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Supplementary prescribers do not necessarily need to complete the independent prescribing course.

Accredited courses
Courses typically last six months and are often run part-time with elements of face-to-face teaching and self-directed study. The programmes involve 26 days of teaching and learning activity and completion of at least 12 days of learning in a practice environment being mentored by a designated medical practitioner, such as a general practitioner. Required clinical and diagnostics skills are taught as part of the course.

Conversion courses
Registered pharmacist supplementary prescribers are able to become independent prescribers by completion of a GPhC-accredited conversion programme. Courses usually involve two days of teaching and learning activity, and two days of learning in a practice environment.

Details of courses
View details of pharmacist prescriber courses

Further information about education and training requirements for pharmacist prescribers can be found on the GPhC website.

Support for pharmacist prescribers Support for pharmacist prescribers

We aim to support you through all aspects of your career and your day to day practice, to help you become more confident and competent in your role.

This section signposts you to useful resources that will help you build upon your existing skills and knowledge, but also help you develop your expertise in the prescribing arena.

Standards and competency frameworks

General Pharmaceutical Council standards that would apply to pharmacists prescribers include:
Other guidance to be aware of include:

All GPhC guidance can be found on their website.

Competency Frameworks
In 2015, the RPS started the process of updating the framework with the backing of NICE and in collaboration with all the prescribing professions UK wide. The updated single competency framework was published on our website in July 2016, for all regulators, professional bodies, prescribing professions and patients to use.

The RPS Leadership competency framework for all pharmacy professional is aimed at all pharmacy professionals at every stage of their professional career. Many elements of this framework may be mapped to your role as a prescriber.

An adaptable scope of practice template for hospital prescribers has been developed by pharmacists at Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Further development

The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) has produced a series of learning programmes for prescribers to support them in their role.

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has also produced resources to support pharmacist prescribers.

Many e-learning and distance learning resources, and learning events for pharmacists can be found on the Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE). Topics that may be of interest to pharmacist prescribers include adolescent health, adverse drug reactions, antibiotics and their role in managing infections, diabetes in practice, mental health, older people, palliative care, skin conditions (not exhaustive list). For a full list of resources see the WCPPE website.

The National Prescribing Centre (NPC) has a range of e-learning resources on non-medical prescribing. (The NPC became part of NICE in April 2011, however resources remain available for viewing and downloading on the NPC legacy website.)

  • Therapeutics e-learning resources 
  • Prescribing skills
    • Improving safety and managing risk in medicines management systems and processes 
    • Repeat prescribing 
    • An introduction to medication review 
  • Personal skills
    • Personal and organisational development 
    • Evidence-informed decision-making 
    • Problem Solving 
  • Change management
    • Improvement tools, skills and techniques 
    • Involving patients and the public in service development

Where to go for further information Where to go for further information

How we can support you

RPS Professional Support Service

RPS Professional Support Service are available to provide you with advice, support and guidance around professional practice, as well as the decision making processes surrounding legal and ethical issues, associated with day-to-day pharmacy practice.

Practice guidance and support tools
Our practice guidance and support tools are available exclusively for members through our website. Topics covered include:

  • Pharmacy law and ethics
  • Pharmacy practice
  • Public health issues
  • Information on diseases and medical conditions

Medicines, Ethics and Practice (MEP)
MEP is an essential guide to pharmacy practice and legislation that supports you in making professional decisions.

Pharmaceutical Journal and Clinical Pharmacist
As part of your membership you’ll receive your regular copy of the PJ and Clincial Pharmacist, to ensure you keep up to date with all that is happening in the profession.(Please note that you would need to opt into receive Clinical Pharmacist, simply contact our membership team at [email protected].) 

Alerts and updates
We have a range of email services to ensure you’re always up to date on developments within pharmacy and healthcare.

  • Today’s headlines – bringing you the days’ health stories from the national media
  • Support alerts – we summarise the latest medicines and device alerts, patient safety notices, and other important communications concerning patient safety 
  • E-alerts – ad hoc emails which let you know about information from the Society which might need urgent attention
  • E-news – our monthly newsletter providing you with information on the latest developments from the Society and the profession  

Our library is the first port of call, if you are looking for information resources and information support. We can help with literature searches and have an e-library which provides access to central reference works on pharmacy and medicine. You will also be able to conduct your own searches using our free online databases.

Local Practice Forums
Local practice forums are the local face of the Society and a way for you to meet pharmacists and build up your local network of contacts. Many LPFs hold educational meetings and presentations on a range of topics, so are a great way to develop your learning. You can find the latest LPF events in your area by visiting the networks pages.

Online groups
We have a dedicated online group for pharmacist prescribers so you can share experiences and develop your own support network, in order to promote best practice for patients and to contribute to work on pharmacist prescribing. Our online groups also give you access to the whole cross section of the profession.

Continued professional development (CPD)
We are here to lead and support your development all levels of your pharmacy practice, throughout your professional life. We have a number of resources to assist you with the recording of CPD, including case studies, a checklist to check your entries and helpful tips.

Mentoring service
Our mentoring service allows you to benefit from the support and guidance of more experienced colleagues through a variety of approaches to mentoring. Our online mentor – mentee matching database which allows you to access a mentor to suit your needs.

RPS resources

External resources


Clinical guidelines

Non-medical prescribing

GMC Medical Prescribers guidance

Day-to-day practice prescribing resources

Return To Top