The BNF chapter numbering structure (sometimes referred to as the hierarchy) was changed in BNF70 in order to facilitate the development of digital products and the print restructuring of content.

We are aware that NHS organisations, especially hospitals, utilise the BNF’s chapter structure and have further developed it for a range of important uses which could be impacted by these changes, including, in particular, collecting and reporting data on medicines and other prescribable products. As well as local systems, this also affects NHS Business Services Authority’s prescriptions information systems and reports, the dm+d supplementary release file, and the publications and data releases by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

A steering group with representation from the BNF Publisher, DH, HSCIC, NHSBSA, NICE, Devolved Administrations, All England Chief Pharmacists Group and the Pharmaceutical Advisors Group has been established meets quarterly. The group’s focus is on the development of an NHS owned information standard, which will eventually replace the legacy BNF chapter structure. Use of the standard will be mandated throughout the NHS to ensure consistency across all systems, although please note that this is a long term objective. The group will also focus on developing a strategy which will support the requirements of users throughout the NHS to make a smooth transition with minimal disruption. We will be consulting widely with users to help with this work.

We would like to reassure you that the BNF Publisher will continue to support the chapter structure featured in previous editions of the BNF through ‘BNF Legacy’, which is available on the www.medicinescomplete.com platform whilst solutions are implemented.


In a recent survey we asked for your feedback about the BNF eNewsletter, and in response to your comments we have redesigned the June edition. We hope you’ll find it clearer, more succinct and easier to find the information you need. Let us know what you think at enewsletter@bnf.org.

This month’s issue contains a useful case study on managing chronic asthma, along with the latest guidance and content updates to the BNF and BNFC.

June 2016

Previous newsletters can be found below:

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

Print editions: flags and drug-class monographs

In the print editions of BNF Publications, where there is common information relating to a class of drugs, the shared properties are contained in a drug-class monograph.  Drug-class monographs are highlighted by a circled flag symbol beside the title of the drug-class monograph.  The corresponding individual drug monographs usually follow the drug-class monograph, and are highlighted by a non-circled flag symbol.

BNF Beta-adrenoceptor blockers

BNF Atenolol

For example, the monograph for atenolol will display a flag, indicating that the drug-class monograph for Beta-adrenoceptor blockers (systemic), should be consulted in tandem.  For more information, see How to use BNF publications in print in the preface of the current print publications.