A decade of independent prescribing in the UK: a review of progress

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Background: 2022 marks a decade since the profession of podiatry secured independent prescribing rights in the UK. Widely viewed as a significant milestone, its advent appeared to herald a new age of practice, with increased autonomy, a broader scope of practice and improved patient care. Access to any medicine within the British National Formulary (with a few notable exceptions) seemed to signal an end to the perennial difficulties and frequent disappointments in obtaining ease of access to medicines necessary for effective practice. Main body: Recent attempts to expand the scope of prescribing practice to include access to a broader range of controlled drugs (CDs) have led to unanticipated complications which may even threaten existing rights. These issues highlight the limitations of current independent prescribing and the continuing inability of podiatrists to access certain key medicines, primarily controlled drugs. Reliance on specified ‘lists’ of approved medicines, whether a controlled drug list for prescribers or the use of statutory exemptions by non-prescriber podiatrists, remain inflexible and difficult to change. The data underpinning much of this paper is derived from the work undertaken by the authors as representatives of podiatry on NHS England’s Chief Professions’ Officers’ Medicines project, in particular involving submissions to the Commission on Human Medicines and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Medicines, spanning the years 2017–2021. It describes a complex process, and highlights a misalignment between two legislative frameworks that threaten to unravel existing rights. Short conclusion: Ongoing difficulties relating to controlled drugs illustrate the problematic nature of current supply, administration and prescribing rights in podiatry. Efforts to keep pace with periodic legal reclassifications of medicines are constrained by limited and inflexible legal mechanisms, and formal approval for extended access via prescribing remains unpredictable and complex. For prescriber and non-prescriber1 (1Non- prescriber podiatrists are those who are neither supplementary or independent prescribers, but do enjoy existing administration and supply rights to certain medicines.) podiatrists alike, the profession of podiatry faces a new challenge to its ability to access medicines, and to realise its full clinical potential.




Fitzpatrick, M. T., & Borthwick, A. M. (2022, December 1). A decade of independent prescribing in the UK: a review of progress. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-022-00541-8

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