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UK becomes first country to allow physiotherapists and podiatrists to prescribe

Physiotherapists and podiatrists will be able to prescribe medication for pain relief, diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders independently from GPs under new legislation taking effect today.

Advanced physiotherapy and podiatry practitioners who have completed a training course approved by the Health and Care Professions Council will be able to prescribe medicines relevant to their role.

The full impact of the changes will be felt in summer 2014, when the first practitioners have completed their courses. Patients will no longer have to go back to their GPs to get medication after visiting the physiotherapist or podiatrist.

The Department of Health said the move would ‘free up valuable time for GPs and making things more convenient for the patient’.

In a statement the DH said: ‘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, more promptly.

’Physiotherapists would be able to prescribe medicines for symptoms such as pain and inflammation. The opportunity to prescribe pain relief and other medicines would help many patients to respond more quickly to their treatment.’

Care minister, Norman Lamb said: ‘This change will not only benefit patients by making it more convenient to get treatment but it will also free up valuable GP time. We are showing the world that the NHS is at the forefront of healthcare, paving the way for other countries.   

Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: ‘This is a landmark moment that will lead to patients receiving faster, more effective treatment for their condition.

He said: ‘Physiotherapists being able to independently prescribe - for the first time anywhere in the world - will remove bureaucracy, free up time for doctors and save money for the NHS.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • I forsee a lot of unnecessary steroid injections.

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  • and equally an unprecedented increase in questionable anti-inflam therapy, the fallout of which shall have to be salvaged by ....GP's

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  • A bad move and especially with physios.

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  • For goodness sake. We have tried really hard to be as economical with prescribing as reasonable and continue to make essential savings against budget only to be exposed to this sort of venture which can only undo our good work or, equally annoyingly, involve us in more management of "sub-contractors" who don't have any responsibility for their prescribing regime.

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  • There is a reason why other countries have not rushed to do this. Prescribing is both complex and potentially dangerous and indeed hard enough even after a decase of training. Hopefully, as this comes into force, there will also be a sizeable investment into endoscopy suites and C-Diff treatment facilities.

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  • It's bad enough with nurse prescribing but this......?

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  • Don't worry. Hospital doctors can prescribe but are under pressure to send patients back to the GP so that the drug costs are footed by the GP budget. It sounds good for patients in principle but will come to nothing.

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  • As an osteopath, I am delighted. Now, as well as using useless machines and giving useless exercises, physios can prescribe useless drugs. Most patients I see arrive having had no success with these or dont want NSAIDs, so I foresee a big increase in patient numbers if physios are doling out the Diclofenac as well.

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  • Come on guys - this arrogant rush to the high ground is not edifying!

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  • FYI, In the USA, Doctors of Podiatric Medicine have been able to prescribe prescription medications, including narcotics, since the early 1960. Some of the above comments are, well, ridiculous. By allowing the appropriately trained physician to prescribe, cuts down on patients having to go to another physician, wasting time AND wasting money. In the USA, DPMs are licensed physicians and surgeons, with hospital admitting and surgical privileges.

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