Physiotherapists and podiatrists will be granted the right to prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatories without the authorisation of a doctor, under changes to be announced by the Department of Health today.
The changes will mean after specific training, physiotherapist and podiatrists will be prescribing drugs relevant to their area of expertise from 2014.
The plans to make care more ‘streamlined' for patients with conditions such as asthma, neurological disorders, chronic pain and mobility problems.
Health minister Lord Howe said physiotherapists and podiatrists were ‘highly trained clinicians'.
He added: ‘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, without compromising on safety.'
Dr Helena Johnson, chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the move would mean patients get their medicines more quickly.
She said: ‘Patients will now receive a more streamlined and efficient service.
‘An unnecessary burden will be removed from doctors, with physiotherapists taking full responsibility and accountability for the prescribing decisions they make.'
Dr John Dickson, a member of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society and a GP in North Yorkshire, said the move ‘made sense'.
He said: ‘You can get a lot of these painkillers over the counter. Patients might get more advice from trained physiotherapists about how to take the drugs.'