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Optometrists in the UK are to be given the power to prescribe medicines to patients, according to a Government announcement.
Independent prescribing will mean that specially trained ophthalmic opticians will be able to write a prescription if they diagnose a problem, saving patients from having to make a separate appointment with their GP.
Optometrists will have to undertake further training before they can prescribe, and they will only work within their areas of expertise.
Once trained, optometrists will only prescribe for conditions of the eye and its surrounding tissue, and will have to refer patients to an ophthalmologist if more specialised care is needed.
Health minister Dawn Primarolo said: “A simple eye test is crucial to keep eyes healthy and in the most serious cases, can save your sight.
“Optometrists are trained eye health professionals. Enabling independent prescribing will not only allow them to make better use of their skills, but will also mean greater convenience for patients.”
Rosie Varley, chairman of the General Optical Council, added: “Independent prescribing is a significant development for optometrists, which builds on their existing clinical skills and experience.
“The move reflects high levels of public confidence in optometrists and optical regulation. For patients, it should mean that they get quality care faster and more conveniently than ever before.”
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