The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has launched a free British National Formulary (BNF) Smartphone application for download by health and social care professionals working for NHS England.

The new app - NICE BNF - has been developed to provide easy access to the latest up-to-date prescribing information from the BNF, the most widely-used medicines information resource within the NHS.

The NICE BNF app is available to download free to health and social care professionals via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Users will need to enter their NHS Athens user name and password to activate the app and download the content. Once downloaded and activated, the app does not rely on a network connection and will provide direct offline access to the latest version of the BNF.

"Ensuring staff have access to the latest high-quality information to deliver the best possible patient care has always been very important to NICE," said NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon, speaking as the new app was launched.

"The growing use of Smartphones has created a new culture and means for people to access information while on the move. The NICE Guidance app we launched earlier in the year has been phenomenally successful and we believe that health and care professionals will love our BNF app too."

"It looks great and is easy to use. And because you don't need internet access once the app is downloaded, professionals can be reassured they can get access to the BNF wherever they may be delivering care," said Sir Andrew.

The new app was also welcomed by Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at the Department of Health, who said that it "gives those who have prescribing and medicines responsibilities fast, reliable and convenient access to the most up-to-date prescribing information, ensuring medicines continue to be administered and used safely and accurately."

In addition, an app for the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) is in the late stages of development and will be released soon, says NICE. The Institute has a licensing agreement with the publishers of the BNF and BNFC - the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - to provide free and open access for the NHS to BNF and BNFC online via its NHS Evidence service, and to make the BNF available through mobile applications.