NMC cracks down on remote prescribing cosmetic treatments

08 Nov 2022

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has released clarification on the guidelines for prescriptions emphasising that remote prescribing for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes is not permitted.

The NMC has told Aesthetics that it is receiving a high volume of questions from nurses regarding prescribing and remote prescribing, hence felt a reiteration of the rules was necessary to help them feel confident in their practice and to ensure patient safety.

The NMC highlighted that nurses are not permitted to prescribe prescription-only medicines for cosmetic/aesthetic purposes, including common treatments such botulinum toxin, prescription weight loss treatments, hyaluronidase and triamcinolone acetonide (kenalog), without doing an in-person medical consultation.

The NMC has compiled its own principles for consultations and prescribing, which cover prioritising patient safety, understanding how to protect vulnerable patients, obtaining appropriate consent and more.

Additionally, the guidance highlights the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Competency Framework, which the NMC has integrated into its standards. The Framework emphasises appropriate clinical assessments, understanding existing conditions and identifying potential risks before prescriptions are issued. The guidance can be read in full here.

The NMC also reminds nurses that section 18.1 of The Code states that ‘Those suitably qualified must only prescribe, advise on or provide medicines or treatment, including repeat prescriptions, if you have enough knowledge of that person’s health and are satisfied that the medicines or treatment serve that person’s health needs’.

Professor Geraldine Walters, executive director of professional practice at the NMC, commented, “All prescribers must take individual responsibility for their prescribing decisions. As someone with a prescribing qualification, we want to help you deliver the best and safest care.”

The Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) has further highlighted its opposition to remote prescribing, after it issued its own guidance on responsible prescription earlier in the year. The JCCP told Aesthetics that there is particular concern regarding medical professionals engaging in remote prescribing via dedicated online platforms, which is not permitted.

Professor David Sines, executive chair and registrar of the JCCP, said, “The JCCP is of the opinion that remote prescribing in any form is unacceptable for prescription-only medicines that are used for aesthetic/cosmetic purposes. The JCCP remains committed to its policy position that face-to-face consultations must be used whenever prescription-only medicines are prescribed for use within this sector.”

According to the NMC, if nurses are found to have engaged in remote prescribing for cosmetic procedures, such as via a video or phone call, they are liable to be called before an NMC Fitness to Practise Committee panel to judge the potential risk they may pose to public safety. The sanctions which may follow could include a temporary caution, a temporary suspension or being struck off completely. More details can be found here.

To read the full NMC guidance, which was supplied to the JCCP, click here.

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