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Call for doctors to face child prescription tests

16 January 2008

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A health expert has said that doctors should be forced to pass a competency test before they are allowed to prescribe medicines to children.

The call comes after new research revealed that only three medical institutions in the country test their doctors before allowing them to prescribe drugs to youngsters.

Sharon Conroy, a lecturer at the University of Nottingham, who conducted the research, urged the Department of Health (DH) to introduce guidance that will require every doctor to pass a basic test before they are allowed to prescribe medicines to under-18s.

She said: “For an adult patient you have standard doses, but for children doses are calculated on their weight, if they are premature and how old they are. Each dose has to be worked out on an individual basis for each patient.

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“Before a nurse can give a medicine to a child they have to pass a test and before a pharmacist can dispense medicine they have to pass a test.

“But doctors are allowed to prescribe for adults and children and the training is very variable across the country.

“We would like to see a requirement put in place by the Department of Health for doctors to be assessed as being basically competent.”

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Department of Health