The UK government is considering proposals which would give physiotherapists the same power to write patient prescriptions as pharmacists and nurses.
At the moment, physiotherapists are only able to prescribe medication if working from written permission from a doctor.
However, the Department of Health is considering a change in the law, which could see physios write prescriptions for respiratory conditions such as asthma, pain relief and neurological conditions.
It is thought the move would make access to drugs more rapid and direct, at the same time as improving levels of patient care.
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Plans to enable physiotherapists, along with chiropodists and optometrists, to prescribe medicines have been in motion since 2004, after specifically trained nurses were allowed to prescribe a wide range of drugs, including antibiotics.
The Chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Ann Green, said the proposals are “a major step forward towards the goal of improving patient care delivered by physiotherapists.”
She added: “The other big benefit is that the new rights will relieve a currently unnecessary burden on doctors who are simply asked to write a prescription for medication recommended by the physiotherapist.
“Though the proposed change will mean greater responsibilities and additional training to become independent prescribers, physiotherapists are well placed to take this on as they have already been 'supplementary prescribers' since 2001.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the British Medical Association commented: “Doctors undergo years of training to equip them with the skills to be able to prescribe medicines for all conditions.
“However, there is a role for other healthcare professionals to prescribe from a limited range of medicines for specific conditions.”
The spokesperson added: “Nurses and pharmacists have been able to do this since 2009. Any extension of prescribing rights to other healthcare professionals should be accompanied by rigorous training as patient safety must be paramount.
“It will also be important for physiotherapists to ensure they tell GPs about their prescribing decisions so a comprehensive patient record can be maintained in order to avoid adverse events occurring.”