Extending non-medical prescribing

Independent prescribing should be extended to physiotherapists and podiatrists, according to the conclusions of a Department of Health scoping project report on the allied health professions and medicines supply mechanisms. The report says that quality of care is compromised by the limitations of the current system and considers the case for change in existing arrangements for each profession.

It recommends that supplementary prescribing by dietitians is established and a specific list of potential exemptions for them be considered, and that a specific list of exemptions for orthoptists is established.

Although there is some evidence supporting a progression to independent prescribing for radiographers it is less strong than for physiotherapists and podiatrists and further work may be needed to consider the need for this, along with the possible need for supplementary prescribing by speech and language therapists, orthoptists and occupational therapists.

Support for coordinated research into the impact of prescribing by allied health professionals on patients, services and prescribing trends should also be considered, although the report is clear that this should not delay change. It also says that the incremental approach – moving from supplementary to independent prescribing that has been adopted so far (although not for nurses) – should be continued.