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Published on 23 July 2012

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UK physiotherapists may get power to prescribe

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Patients could benefit from faster access to medicines such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories thanks to proposed new prescribing powers for advanced practitioner physiotherapists and podiatrists, Lord Howe announced today.

Once suitably trained, physiotherapists and podiatrists in the UK would be the first in the world to be able to independently prescribe medicines where clinically appropriate.

Physiotherapists would be able to prescribe medicines for issues such as chronic pain and respiratory diseases like asthma. The opportunity to prescribe pain relief and other medicines would help many patients to respond more quickly to their treatment.

Podiatrists who treat patients with a wide range of conditions including diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders in the foot and ankle would be able to prescribe medication, if required, more promptly.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: “Physiotherapists and podiatrists are highly trained clinicians who play a vital role in ensuring patients receive integrated care that helps them recover after treatment or manage a long term condition successfully.  

“By introducing these changes, we aim to make the best use of their skills and allow patients to benefit from a faster and more effective service.” 

Dr Helena Johnson, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: “Giving physiotherapists the opportunity to prescribe independently will hugely improve the care we can provide in the future.  

“Patients will now receive a more streamlined and efficient service, meaning they get the medicines they need more immediately.”

Alison Wishart, Chair of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists said: “Independent prescribing provides podiatrists with the opportunity to deliver more flexible services for patients – ensuring timely access to medicines, care closer to home and enabling innovation.”

The proposal to extend prescribing responsibilities follows two public consultations last year and subsequent recommendations from the Commission on Human Medicines.

Physiotherapists and podiatrists who have successfully completed Health Professions Council (HPC) approved education programmes and are annotated on the HPC register could be prescribing independently in 2014.

Department of Health



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