DH consults on independent prescribing by podiatrists and physiotherapists

Should independent prescribing be extended to podiatrists and physiotherapists? The Department of Health and MHRA have published two consultations with these proposals, which can be found here. The deadline for responses to both is 8 December 2011.

The physiotherapist consultation proposes that physiotherapists can become independent prescribers and that physiotherapist independent prescribers should be able to mix medicines before administration, and direct others to do so, and to prescribe some specified controlled drugs independently. Those physiotherapists who are currently supplementary prescribers would have to undergo additional training to become independent prescribers. The proposals would need changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, as well as to the Medicines Act 1968. Independent prescribing of unlicensed medicines is not included in either document.

The consultation sets out the list of options, ranging from prescribing for any condition from the complete formulary, to prescribing for specified conditions from a specified formulary. The proposals for podiatrists are similar and both consultations give examples of areas where independent prescribing could be useful.

An analysis of the responses to last year’s engagement exercise (see here) is included in the consultations, and shows a lot of support for the option of prescribing for any condition from the full formulary (option 5). The most limited extension – independent prescribing for specified conditions from a specified formulary – found support with the BMA and the Royal College of Physicians, among others. The more limited versions are likely to require frequent revisions to the lists of conditions and/or formularies, a process that those nurses who were prescribing before the formulary was opened up will remember only too well!