NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Prescribing for yourself, friends or family

The professional bodies linked to medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing and midwifery have all issued standards or guidance on prescribing. They all recommend that practitioners should not prescribe for themselves or anyone with whom they have a close personal relationship. This is because it can be difficult to remain objective and so prescribers risk overlooking serious problems, tolerating unsuitable behaviour, or interfering with care or treatment provided by other healthcare professionals.


The Nursing and Midwifery Council advises within Standards of proficiency for nurse and midwife prescribers that nurses and midwives must not prescribe for themselves and, other than in exceptional circumstances, should not prescribe for anyone with whom they have a close personal or emotional relationship.


The GMC guidance says that wherever possible doctors must avoid prescribing for themselves or anyone with whom they have a close personal relationship. Any doctor who does prescribe in these situations must be prepared to justify the decision to do so and;

  • make a clear record at the time or as soon as possible afterwards. Include the relationship with the patient and the reason it was necessary to prescribe.
  • tell the patient’s own GP what has been prescribed and any other information necessary for continuing care unless the patient objects.


Controlled drugs must not be prescribed in these situations unless no other person with the legal right to prescribe is available to assess and prescribe without a delay which would put the patient’s life or health at risk or cause unacceptable pain or distress, and the treatment is immediately necessary to:

  • save a life
  • avoid serious deterioration in health, or
  • alleviate otherwise uncontrollable pain or distress.


Advice for pharmacist prescribers is broadly similar to that issued for doctors.