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


  1. What's the difference between podiatrists and chiropodists? They seems to be used interchangeably a lot.

  2. They are interchangeable! Podiatrist is the newer term for a chiropodist.

  3. Does a U.S. trained (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) Podiatrist licensed to practice in the UK have the ability to prescribe drugs currently? Is the list of medications they can prescribe the same as those that a UK trained Podiatrist will soon be able to independently prescribe?

    1. Thanks for your question. I am not aware of any different prescribing rights for US-trained podiatrists. However, I have contacted my colleagues in our Policy and Standards team and will be able to get back to you on here in the New Year with a better answer. I would also suggest you contact them on policy@hcpc-uk.org if you would like them to respond to you directly.
      - Angie, Communications Officer, HCPC

    2. Supplementary and independent subscribing are both post-registration entitlements. In order for a registered chiropodist / podiatrist (regardless of whether they registered using an approved UK course or an international application) to become a supplementary or independent prescriber in the UK, they would need to complete one of our approved post-registration programmes and then apply to have their record annotated on our Register to reflect this. Further details on our approved post-registration programmes for supplementary and independent prescribers for chiropodists / podiatrists can be found here: http://www.hcpc-uk.org/education/programmes/register/

      Further information about the medicines that chiropodists and podiatrists who have been annotated on our Register can and cannot prescribe is available on the website of the MHRA: http://www.mhra.gov.uk/index.htm#page=DynamicListMedicines

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