Podiatrists face ongoing prescribing limitations, research shows

A new paper reviewing a podiatrist’s rights and limitations to independent prescribing over the last 10 years has been published.

Gaining independent prescribing rights was a significant milestone which meant podiatrists worked with “increased autonomy, a broader scope of practice and improved patient care”.

Recurring difficulties and frequent disappointments were combatted with podiatrists’ ease of access to any medicine necessary for efficient practice in the British National Formulary, with a few exceptions.

Attempts within the past decade to access a wider scope of prescribing practice for podiatrists have led to unexpected complications which could jeopardise existing rights.

The data, ranging from the years 2017 to 2021, illustrates “a complex process” and emphasises on “a misalignment between two legislative frameworks that threaten to unravel existing rights”.

The problems highlighted by the data show the current limitations on independent prescribing for podiatrists and the continuous inability for podiatrists to access key medicines, particularly controlled drugs.

These continuing issues regarding controlled drugs demonstrate the challenges of current supply, administration, and prescribing rights in podiatry. Having to rely on ‘lists’ of approved medicines has remained inflexible and hard to change throughout the last decade.

The researchers said: “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.”

They concluded: “For prescriber and non-prescriber podiatrists alike, the profession of podiatry faces a new challenge to its ability to access medicines, and to realise its full clinical potential.”

The paper uses data from work carried out by the authors, TJ Fitzpatrick and Alan M Borthwick, as representatives of podiatry on NHS England’s Chief Professions’ Officers’ Medicines project, specifically involving submissions to the Commission on Human Medicines and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Medicines.

The review was published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.

Photo by Elnur

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