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New legislation comes into force today which will mean that physiotherapists and podiatrists in the UK will be the first to be able to independently prescribe medication to their patients, Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb has announced.
The move will mean patients will no longer have to go back to their doctors to get medication after visiting the physiotherapist or podiatrist, freeing up valuable time for GPs and making things more convenient for the patient.
Around 15 million people are currently living with a long term condition, which requires trips to hospital or to the GP. Many of these people will benefit from being treated closer to home and in a more timely manner, enabling them to better manage their condition.
Advanced practitioners will have to complete a training course approved by the Health and Care Professions Council and will only be able to prescribe medicines relevant to their role.
The full impact of these changes will be felt in summer 2014, when practitioners have completed their courses and are starting to prescribe for their patients.
Care and Support 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.
“Physiotherapists and podiatrists are highly skilled professionals and these changes will allow them to give better care to the millions of people with acute and long term conditions.”
Tuesday’s changes will enable the NHS to:
- improve timely access to medicines;
- deliver care closer to home, supporting people to remain in and return to work;
- enable self-care and self-management of conditions; and
- improve treatment results for patients by maximising the benefits of physiotherapy and podiatry.
For example 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.
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.
“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.
“But the most important impact of this new responsibility will be seen in the quality of care patients receive.
“Patients will be able to access pain relief and other medication quicker and this should help them get greater benefit from their physiotherapy.
“It is good news for patients and an important step forward for the NHS.”
Joanna Brown, chief executive of The College of Podiatry said:
“The new legislation will provide patients with more prompt and better access to treatment, helping to integrate care and reduce the pressure on other health care professionals. Podiatrists play a key role in the management of conditions such as diabetes, arthritis of the foot and ankle and dermatological conditions of the feet. The ability to independently prescribe will particularly benefit patients in these areas.”
Karen Middleton, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at NHS England said:
“This is a huge step for both the physiotherapy and podiatry professions in terms of being able to provide services which offer patients better access, a better experience and improved outcomes. It may also reduce cost. Physiotherapists and podiatrists need to influence local commissioners in terms of how these new prescribing rights can result in significant service redesign, in particular in order to reduce the demand on GP time. I would like to thank all those who have collaborated with us on this work.”