20 August 2013

Independent prescribing for chiropodists / podiatrists and physiotherapists

Today, legislation to allow independent prescribing by appropriately trained chiropodists / podiatrists and physiotherapists came into effect. This is the result of several years of work by the Department of Health, professional bodies, education providers and regulators, including the HCPC.

Chiropodists / podiatrists and physiotherapists will need to complete appropriate training and be marked or ‘annotated’ on our Register as independent prescribers before they can act as an independent prescriber. As independent prescribers, chiropodists / podiatrists and physiotherapists will be able to prescribe an appropriate medicine for their patient based on the patient’s clinical needs and within the legal framework.

In line with the new legislation, we have published new standards for prescribing today. The standards set out a robust framework for education providers delivering training in prescribing and also for the prescribers themselves. We will now start the process to approve education programmes delivering training in independent prescribing against these standards.

We asked a physiotherapist and a chiropodist / podiatrist what the change in legislation means for their service users and their practice.

Julie Read, physiotherapist working in a community specialist respiratory care team 
“I can currently only prescribe medicines within a clinical management plan that is agreed and signed off by my designated medical practitioner and the patient’s GP practice. So being able to independently prescribe will mean I can now prescribe antibiotics, cortico-steroids and inhalers when needed by patents in a more timely and efficient way. Patients benefit from getting exacerbation medicines or new inhalers faster.

“Physiotherapy-led community respiratory services are a great step forward as it means the GP and consultants can be less involved in routine cases, which frees up their time for patients with more complex needs. Previously, the lack of independent prescribing was the barrier stopping this happening more frequently.”

Matthew Fitzpatrick, musculoskeletal specialist podiatrist

"As a podiatrist in the acute setting, I sometimes need to have the flexibility to respond to the clinical needs of patients, which was not always supported as well with previous medicines management options. Heavy reliance on medical staff, both locally and regionally, meant that there were delays in care that then affected the patient pathway.

“The benefit of independent prescribing for podiatrists working as part of the overall health care team is that we can provide the right care at the right time, delivered in the right place.

"Having this option as part of the patient's pathway will mean I am able, where necessary, to positively impact the patient’s outcome as well as relieve pressure on other health care providers. Being able to implement this within the appropriate settings and with appropriate support will certainly revolutionise the way in which my colleagues and I will deliver care to our patients."

Will you be taking advantage of the opportunity to train as an independent prescriber once the programmes have been approved? How will the ability to train as an independent prescriber affect your own practice? Leave us a comment below.

If you have any questions about the new independent prescribing standards, contact us at policy@hcpc-uk.org

Charlotte Urwin
Policy Manager, HCPC

15 August 2013

Striving for good governance

On 29 July, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) launched its campaign to recruit a new Council. This rose from a government directive that all UK professional regulatory bodies for health and care create smaller, ‘more board like’ governance structures. The General Medical Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Dental Council have already made this change. Over the last 7 years, HCPC has moved from a Council of 26 appointed and elected members and 13 alternate members (39 in total), to 20 appointed members. It is now moving to an appointed Council of 12 members.

HCPC has enjoyed a period of substantial growth under the direction of a strong and cohesive Council. We must maintain our UK wide focus and ensure that we recruit individuals who provide the strategic and financial oversight required. I have no doubt that we will continue to attract individuals with a wide range of skills and expertise from different arenas including service user advocacy, social care, health and psychological services, education, commerce and finance.

We also need individuals who can engage with the big, difficult issues facing public services. Recent events have revealed serious breaches of public trust and confidence in the governance of health and social care providers. Mid Staffordshire, Winterbourne, Ash Grove, Gwent, Vale of Leven and Rochdale all point towards serious failures of governance as well as failures of care. There will continue to be conversations around the HCPC table about these failures and how and why they occurred and what can be done to mitigate the risk of such failures occurring in other contexts. No-one in health and social care regulation can be complacent and HCPC has a shared responsibility with other regulators to make improvements.

The move to a smaller Council also creates the space to think about the underpinnings of good governance. We need people with a range of skills and expertise and big picture thinking, but we also need to create a governing body with shared values. One of the themes across a range of guidance documents on governance (1-4)  is fidelity to values. This means not simply being able to articulate the seven principle of public life, (4) but to have an appetite to re-visit what they mean on a day to day basis, how they impact on relationships, decision making, outcomes. How they can challenge and create conflict. How they influence the culture of the organisation at every level.

It is the combination of skills, expertise and the values of public service that are critical to this new Council. We need individuals who can hold the purpose of professional regulation at the centre of corporate decision making. That purpose is to provide public protection for those who use the services of professionals on the HCPC Register. Clarity of purpose, fidelity to core values are key.

Anna van der Gaag


1. Carver, J. (2006) Boards that make a Difference. Jossey-Bass, California

2. Independent Commission on Good Governance in Public Services (2004)

3. PSA (2013) Fit and Proper? Governance in the public interest.

4. Committee on Standards in Public Life (2013) Standards matter: a review of best practice in promoting good behaviour in public life.