Every podiatrist is able to provide advice to patients on the use of certain medicines related to the treatment of disorders of the foot. Most podiatrists are able to supply and administer medicines to patients under Patient Specific Directions, Patient Group Directions or through the “exemption lists” (comprising two separate lists of named prescription only medicines; one for supply, one for administration).
Podiatrists with additional prescribing annotations to their Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration may prescribe any licensed medicines - including four controlled drugs - which are within the scope of podiatry prescribing practice.
The scope of podiatry practice may include specific methods for the delivery of medicines, such as injection therapy or the administration of local anaesthetics. Podiatric surgeons and other specialists may also use medicines to support more advanced practices.
UK medicines law sets out the framework for how health professionals may use medicines in their work.
- The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) sets the regulatory and educational framework for prescribing by podiatrists
- The Royal College of Podiatry provides guidance to help members use medicines appropriately in their work - see:
There are two types of prescribing by podiatrists:
- Supplementary prescribing is the use of a written clinical management plan (CMP) to prescribe agreed medicines in partnership with a doctor. The CMP can include any licensed or unlicensed medicines and all controlled drugs.
- Independent prescribing permits the independent exercise of clinical reasoning and professional judgment by an independent prescriber podiatrist in the management of diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions related to podiatric practice. Independent prescribers may prescribe any licensed medicine from the British National Formulary, within national and local guidelines, for any condition within their area of competence in the management of conditions of the foot and related structures, with the exception of controlled drugs (for which there is a specific list). Independent prescribers may also mix medicines prior to administration and prescribe from a restricted list of four controlled drugs.
In addition to existing access to controlled drugs, the Royal College of Podiatry is working with NHS England to seek further additions to the present list of four CD medicines.
The UK response to COVID-19 has delayed this work, but it is due to resume in September 2020.
- Supplementary and independent prescribing by podiatrists is legal in every part of the UK.
- Prescribing by UK podiatrists is not allowed overseas.
- Podiatrists cannot prescribe medicines for purely cosmetic purposes.
- Prescribing courses for podiatrists are validated and approved by the HCPC.
- The HCPC sets separate prescribing standards for those annotated as prescribers.
- Courses validated for independent prescribing will automatically provide a supplementary prescribing qualification as well.
- Prescribing practice must not commence until the prescribing qualification obtained is added to the practitioner’s HCPC registration.
Links to external sources of information
The Health and Care Professions Council sets the proficiency standards for prescribing and lists all the approved prescribing courses available to podiatrists in the UK.
Allied Health Professions Federation hosts the curriculum framework for non-medical prescribing educational programmes.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society publishes the competency framework for all prescribers. We have contributed to the creation of this framework and endorse its publication. We expect all our prescribers to follow it.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is the UK-wide statutory regulator for medicines and advises on all aspects of compliance with UK medicines law.