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Podiatrists and physios to get independent prescriber status

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Advanced practitioner podiatrists and physiotherapists could become independent prescribers by 2014, under government proposals announced today (Tuesday, 24 July).

Once qualified, podiatrists and physios would be recognised as independent prescribers on the Health Professions Council's register, and able to prescribe medicines where clinically appropriate and within their competency.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: '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.'

Former committee member of the Association for Nurse Prescribers, and medicines adviser to the RCN, Matt Griffiths, welcomed the proposals.

'This is really good news. Lots of physiotherapists and podiatrists work as independent practitioners and so supplementary prescribing as a mechanism really doesn't suit them. This is about patient choice, and allowing them to choose and access the practitioner they need and trust for specific conditions.'

Under the plans, physiotherapists would be able to prescribe medicines for issues such as chronic pain and respiratory diseases like asthma. Podiatrists would be able to prescribe to patients with a wide range of conditions, including diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders in the foot and ankle.

The proposal to extend prescribing responsibilities follows two public consultations last year, and subsequent recommendations from the Commission on Human Medicines.

Should the required amendments to Medicines Legislation be accepted by Parliament, the UK will become the first country to extend prescribing rights to physiotherapists and podiatrists.

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