Nurses have called for a huge extension of powers to prescribe a range of medicines - including controlled drugs.

The Royal College of Nursing has responded to a Department of Health consultation on nurse prescribing by calling on it to 'go further than any of its original proposals'.

It wants 'to ensure that nurses who have specialist training can prescribe controlled drugs as well as having access to an increased range of other prescription-only medicines'.

The consultation, which ended last week, proposed five options for nurse prescribing. The most radical option excluded only controlled drugs and medicines listed under sections 10 and 11. The RCN favours this option, but including controlled drugs.

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association said: 'If a nurse gets to that level of experience and training they really ought to be given a medical degree and be called a doctor.'

The BMA backs an option which would add all general sales list and pharmacy medicines to the nurse formulary (except those listed in sections 10 and 11 of the NHS [General Medical Services] regulations), plus 'a specified range of prescription-only medicines to cover certain conditions'.