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Physios start prescribing

15 May 2014 - 4:40pm

In a historic first for the profession, eight physiotherapists in England have started prescribing medicines for their patients – without the involvement of a doctor.

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Clockwise from top left: Rosalie Barrett, Vijay Padmanaban, Stephen Ashford and Lucy Goldby

The ‘South Bank eight’, as the CSP has nicknamed them, are the first physios in the UK to start working as independent prescribers after they gained accreditation from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) on 29 April.

The pioneers attended one of the UK’s first independent prescribing courses for physiotherapists and other allied health professionals. It was held last February at London South Bank University.

The physios were Stan Chapman, Rosalie Barrett, Stephen Ashford, Suresh Sudula, Lucy Goldby, Katherine Longhurst, Mohamed Youssef and Vijayaragavan Padmanaban.

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Clockwise from top left: Katherine Longhurst, Suresh Sudula, Mohammed Yosseff, Stan Chapman

Ms Barrett, clinical lead physiotherapist at Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust in west London, told Frontline: ‘This is a huge step forward for the profession, as we are now all able to prescribe within our specialist fields.

‘It’s still early days, but this new skill will undoubtedly benefit patient care and ensure timely interventions.’

CSP professional adviser Pip White has been closely involved in the campaign for independent prescribing rights for physiotherapists. She says physios like the ‘South Bank eight’ will now be able to deliver more effective patient services, give patients a better experience and promote the value of physiotherapy in managing care pathways.

‘The society campaigned on behalf of members for more than 10 years to bring about this change. So now we need members to go out there and prove it was worthwhile.’

The first physio prescriptions

Ms White thinks one of the very first physiotherapy independent prescriptions was for pain relief. She said: ‘Suresh Sudula contacted me at 8.50am on 30 April to let me know he’d just written his first prescription – for Naproxen and Amitriptyline.’

Mr Sudula, a consultant physiotherapist in musculoskeletal ultrasound at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, said: ‘Having independent prescription status has enabled me to prescribe for patients at their initial consultation so they don’t have to visit their GP for prescriptions, which can take up to two or three weeks.

‘It has also made a very positive impact on our service, because it allows us to offer a “one stop shop”, which prevents unnecessary visits to the GP, and provides better primary care.’

Ms White says the HCPC has now approved more than 50 physiotherapy independent prescribing courses at UK universities.

‘The next step is for more physios to enrol on these programmes, so that patients across the country can benefit from the service improvements that independent prescribing physios can deliver,’ said Ms White.

She added that the CSP is keen to hear from members who qualify as independent prescribers. Email: whitep@csp.org.uk

Members can also share their experiences on the medicines and prescribing group of the society’s member networking website, interactiveCSP.

The HCPC website includes a list of higher education institutions that provide approved independent prescribing programmes.

Independent prescribing in other countries 

  • independent prescription rights for physiotherapists came into effect in Scotland on 1 May
  • similar changes to Welsh regulations are expected within the next few months
  • no date has yet been set yet for legislative changes in Northern Ireland. However, the society is engaging with the Northern Ireland assembly about the issue

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