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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.’