Acute Prescribing Toolkit


Acute prescribing forms a large part of the daily workload for GP practices. Quality improvement (QI) methodology can be used to help improve prescribing processes and ensure that prescribing work is managed by the right member of your team, safely and effectively. Effective prescribing processes can:

  • provide patients with safe and improved access to medication,
  • address prescribing workload issues, and
  • make the best use of the skills within the primary care multidisciplinary team.

This toolkit is designed to help primary care multidisciplinary teams, including pharmacotherapy services, safely improve their acute prescribing processes in line with the Essentials of Safe Care.

Throughout the toolkit resources an acute prescription is defined as any prescription without a serial or repeat mandate. This includes prescriptions requested outside of a consultation as well as those issued during a consultation with a primary care clinician.


How to use this toolkit

This toolkit is designed to help you take a QI approach to improving prescribing processes. It offers you acute prescribing tools and local examples aligned to the steps of the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) QI Journey (see diagram below):

Throughout this toolkit all links have been highlighted in blue. All tools, resources and examples can be found on the sidebar on the right-hand side of the relevant page or bottom of the page if using a mobile device.

To start your own acute prescribing improvement journey, select Stage 1: Creating conditions and work your way through each stage using the next button at the bottom right of each page or the quicklinks at the top of the side bar. Remember that you will not always travel through the QI journey in a straight line, you may move backwards and forwards and need to revisit previous steps throughout your project.


How this toolkit was developed

This toolkit has been developed in partnership with GP practices and pharmacotherapy services across Scotland that participated in the Acute Prescribing Learning Network. Teams from 10 NHS boards, including 75 GP practices, developed and tested the resources at either board or practice level from January – May 2022.

NHS Forth Valley joined the network to share learning from their ongoing acute prescribing improvement journey. Read the case study to find out more.


We welcome your feedback to allow us to continually improve this toolkit. You can provide feedback by emailing us at

Go to Stage 1: Creating conditions