This guidance does not come into effect until 5 April 2021

Please continue to follow our existing guidance until then.

Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices: updated guidance

We’ve updated our ethical guidance on Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices.

It will come into effect on 5 April 2021 following a six week familiarisation period. 

About the guidance

Our guidance supports doctors to be able to prescribe safely for their patients, whatever the setting. It sets out our standards for good practice when prescribing face to-face or remotely, when prescribing unlicensed medicines and for when patient care is shared with another doctor.

It’s been updated following a call for evidence on remote prescribing in early 2020, and responds to the huge increase in remote consultations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve restructured the guidance to integrate information on remote consultations and prescribing throughout. 

Key updates include:

  • new advice for doctors to stop prescribing controlled drugs without access to patient records, except in emergencies.
  • stronger advice on information sharing, making it clear that if a patient refuses consent to share information with other health professionals it may be unsafe to prescribe. 
  • alignment with our updated ‘Decision making and consent’ guidance, highlighting the importance of good two-way dialogue between patients and doctors in all settings. 
  • updated advice on treating patients based overseas to clarify doctors may need to register in the country where they are based, where the patient is based, and where prescribed medicines are to be dispensed.

To support doctors in understanding and applying our guidance, we’ve produced a series of case studies highlighting common remote prescribing scenarios including:

  • prescribing for patients based overseas
  • prescribing controlled drugs without access to medical records
  • assessing the suitability of a remote consultation