Background In the United Kingdom, mental health nurses (MHNs) can independently prescribe medication once they have completed a training course. This study investigated attitudes to mental health nurse prescribing held by psychiatrists and nurses. Method 119 MHNs and 82 psychiatrists working in South-East England were randomly sampled. Participants completed a newly created questionnaire. This included individual item statements with 6-point likert scales to test levels of agreement which were summated into 7 subscales. Results Psychiatrists had significantly less favourable, albeit generally positive attitudes than MHNs regarding general beliefs (63% vs. 70%, p < 0.001), impact (62% vs. 70%, p < 0.001), uses (60% vs. 71%, p < 0.001), clinical responsibility (69% vs. 62%, p < 0.001) and legal responsibility (71% vs. 64%, p < 0.001). More MHNs than psychiatrists believed that nurse prescribing would be useful in emergency situations for rapid tranquilisation (82% vs. 37%, p < 0.001), and that the consultant psychiatrist should have ultimate clinical responsibility for prescribing by an MHN (42% vs. 28%, p < 0.001). Approximately half of all participants agreed nurse prescribing would create conflict in clinical teams. Conclusions The majority of both groups were in favour of mental health nurse prescribing, although significantly more psychiatrists expressed concerns. This may be explained by a perceived change in power balance.