Physiotherapists and podiatrists, who treat ailments of the foot and lower leg, could soon be allowed to prescribe drugs to their patients, the Health Service Journal has reported.
The Department of Health has asked industry professionals to list the possible conditions for which they could write prescriptions, as well as the medicines they would consider administering, the journal said.
Officially the UK has 42,000 physiotherapists and 12,000 podiatrists. They may soon join the 55,000 nurses and 1,000 pharmacists allowed to prescribe drugs.
According to the journal, the Department of Health has suggested that professionals be allowed to issue prescriptions if they have at least three years’ experience and have their employers’ approval.
According to government consultation documents, granting the power to prescribe drugs to these professions could allow “innovative service redesign”, such as improving how podiatrists’ care for people with diabetes or cutting down on unnecessary physiotherapy appointments.
The inability of the two professions to prescribe apparently creates difficulties for patients and extra costs for the NHS.
And the department said not changing the rules will mean “the creation of innovative new care pathways will continue to be limited, creating less choice and ongoing unnecessary costs for commissioners”.
The Health Professions Council regulates the work of both physiotherapists and podiatrists.
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“This is a welcome development in physiotherapy profession. This will go a long way to reduce waiting time for both the patients and the therapist for certain medication to be administered before they (patients) are seen by the physiotherapist.Take for instance a patient with burns who will not allow physiotherapy due to pain except he/she is given a pain killer, may wait for a long time before attended to by the therapist” – Fyne S Achugbue, Nigeria