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Patients’ needs are at the centre of the NHS. The aim of providing prompt access to high quality care, within safe systems, remains a key priority. Delivering effective care that is personal to individuals’ needs, providing choice in the way patients are treated and improving access are all of vital importance. To achieve patient-centred services, healthcare professionals need to find ways to work more flexibly. One area in which significant changes have evolved in this respect is the supply, administration and prescribing of medicines. The preferred way for patients to receive medicines is for prescribers to provide care for individual patients on a one-to-one basis.

The legal framework that covers the supply and/or administration of medicines reflects this principle and is based on the traditional model of prescribing by doctors and dentists. In addition, some long-standing exemptions in medicines legislation allow certain healthcare professionals to obtain, sell, supply and administer medicines in specific circumstances. There are also situations, not covered by these exemptions, where patients may benefit, without their safety being compromised, from having a medicine supplied and / or administered directly to them by a range of healthcare professionals.

It must be remembered that it is a breach of the law to administer medicines without a prescription, patient group direction (PGD) or a patient specific direction (PSD). This resource is designed to provide you with information regarding PGDs however in section 7 you will find a short section providing you with some information and links related to PSDs.

Working through this learning resource will help you to better understand the principles behind the concept of PGDs, how these can be developed and the necessary components that require to be included in every PGD.