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CSP continues to push for prescribing rights for physios

The CSP is exploring the possibility of seeking exemption rights to the Medicines Act.

This would allow physiotherapists to administer certain drugs, such as anti-inflammatories, directly to patients.

It would be of particular benefit to patients visiting private physiotherapists, Pen Robinson, the Society's director of member networks and relations, told Frontline.

The exemption would enable those physios who wanted to, to store painkillers, for example, on their premises. They would then be able to give these to patients during a consultation, rather than sending them on to a GP for medication.

Podiatrists and optometrists already enjoy these powers.

The move is part of the Society's continued drive for physios to become independent prescribers, allowing them to diagnose patients' conditions, make decisions about their clinical management, and follow this through. This would include, if appropriate, prescribing medicines.

'Supplementary prescribing, which we believe government ministers support, is an important step forward,' Pen said. 'It will prove to be of positive benefit to a wide number of patients, particularly those with long-term chronic conditions. However, we still believe that independent prescribing for physiotherapists would be of particular benefit to patients with acute musculoskeletal problems and soft tissue injuries.'

Meanwhile, supplementary prescribing for physios could still be on the cards for Christmas. The Society is urging ministers to put the relevant legislation in place.

The government appears to have been won over by the CSP's claims that waiting lists can be further reduced if physios play an increased role in prescribing. Plans to allow allied health professional supplementary prescribers were officially launched in May, in a move recognising the potential for delivering faster, better and more convenient care.

Public consultation on the proposals is now closed, and the Society is awaiting the government's response.

'The document takes forward what we're looking for,' Pen said. 'The key issue for us now is that ministers put the legislation in place which allows physiotherapists to be supplementary prescribers - hopefully by the end of this year.'

Supplementary prescribing will allow physios to increase or decrease doses of medicine already prescribed by a doctor and agreed within a patient care plan, and undertake other activities such as changing a patient's oxygen levels.

The Society has been at the heart of discussions about the proposals all along. Most recently, it's been working with the Department of Health and the National Prescribing Centre to develop a list of required competencies and identify national training needs.

The curriculum framework and competencies are now out and published on relevant websites. This should allow health education institutes to put in place local multidisciplinary courses, Pen said. These courses would first need to be approved by the Health Professions Council, she stressed, 'because all supplementary prescribers will need to have this indicated on the register in some way'.

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