Legislation to be amended to extend use of PGDs

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Department of Health are amending medicines legislation to enable the continued use of patient group directions (PGDs) in the new organizational structures of the health system.

A PGD is a legal mechanism that allows named registered health professionals to supply and/or administer medicines to groups of patients that fit the criteria laid out in the PGD.

As a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, a number of NHS bodies that can currently authorize PGDs—in particular, primary care trusts (PCTs) in England—will no longer exist from April 2013. The aim of the amended medicines legislation is to enable clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local authorities to authorize PGDs.

The legislative amendments will also ensure that existing PGDs will continue to be legal after their expiry on 31 March 2013 and until CCGs or local authorities are able to put in place new systems for authorizing them.

Rebecca Cheatle, primary and community healthcare adviser at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), sits on the Department of Health’s PGDs committee. Ms Cheatle told Practice Nursing: “Revisions to the Medicines Act will ensure that practice nurses [and other health professionals] using existing PGDs are not working outside the law after 31st March 2013.”

Gillian Champion, co-chair, Exeter sub-locality CCG, said: “This information is long overdue and is somewhat lacking in detail. Nurses need to know who is going to keep them updated, who is going to authorise new PGDs. While these arrangements are being set up, practice nurses will be left professionally unsupported.”

Revised guidance and a framework of competencies for the use of PGDs are due for publication in April 2013, taking into account the changes to legislation and organizational structures. In the meantime, the National Prescribing Centre’s 2009 guidance on PGDs remains valid.

Taken from Practice Nursing, published 21 Jan 2013.

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