Legal go-ahead for UK physiotherapists to prescribe independently

It has been legally confirmed that physiotherapists in the UK will be the first in the world to be able to independently prescribe medicines, without a doctor authorising their decision. 

After announcing the plan in October last year, the Health Minister for England signed into law the full independent prescribing rights for physiotherapists on 20th August. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow in the next few months. 

The move comes after 10 years of campaigning by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP). Suitably trained, advanced practice physiotherapists will be able to prescribe any licensed medicine relevant to their particular scope of practice, and for a wide range of conditions such as asthma, neurological disorders, rheumatological conditions, women’s health problems and pain. This means that physiotherapists will have similar prescribing responsibilities to nurses and pharmacists in the UK.

Physiotherapists will not be able to independently prescribe immediately. They will have to undergo training before gaining approval to treat patients in this way, and colleges in the UK are now finalising their syllabuses for these courses.

Phil Gray, Chief Executive of the CSP, said: “This is another hallmark of a highly skilled, confident, autonomous and accountable independent profession delivering high standards of patient care. We should celebrate this milestone internationally. We hope that it will lead to other countries’ physiotherapists following in our footsteps.”  

WCPT supports professional autonomy in the profession, provided that individual physical therapists have sufficient knowledge and competence in their field of practice. “WCPT congratulates the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy on this important achievement,” said Brenda Myers, WCPT Secretary General.

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