In August 2013 UK legislative change came into effect permitting allied health professionals to practice as independent prescribers (IP). Recently the first physiotherapy and podiatry (PP) students have completed training and gained full accreditation. Although the introduction of PP-IP is widely supported, with service delivery and patient benefit anticipated, there is little evidence related to prescribing by PPs. Most of the reported benefits, such as cost savings, improved access, and quality of care relate mainly to prescribing by nurses and pharmacists. Equally, there are concerns surrounding the levels of support and governance structures in place for IP undertaken by AHPs, since organisational barriers and policy restrictions are known to affect implementation of the prescribing role. As the number of trained individuals increases and IP is incorporated into clinical practice, its comprehensive early evaluation will become increasingly important.
This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of independent prescribing by physiotherapists and podiatrists utilising a three-phase study informed by the principles of case study design, using mixed methods. This is work is funded by Department of Health and is a joint collaboration between Surrey University and University of Brighton.
The project aims are to
Informed by the principles of case-study design1 the research enables key stakeholders to have a voice in the evaluative process and captures context at three levels of analysis (see appendix). These include:
Describing the services provided by PP-IPs and determining the impact of these services, on effectiveness, efficiency, quality and cost of services, will create evidence to inform those engaged in policy development and commissioning services, guide professional bodies, healthcare commissioners and managers and support wider implementation of the role. It will allow informed decision making about the extension of prescribing rights to other healthcare professionals and other countries who look to follow our experience.
Dr Simon Otter
Professor Ann Moore
Articles are in preparation
University of Surrey
University of Brighton
Liverpool John Moores University
Department of Health