Therapeutic radiographers to undertake independent prescribing

Published: 16 March 2016 Ezine

In a very welcome development for patients receiving treatment for cancer, advanced practice therapeutic radiographers will be able to train to undertake independent prescribing if there is a service demand.

The announcement will smooth the patient pathway by allowing practitioners to prescribe medicines that might be given before, during or after radiotherapy.

Independent prescribing rights for diagnostic radiographers remains a priority for SCoR and continues to be under review.

Philip Plant, the chair of the SCoR’s Patient and Public Liaison Group, was delighted to hear the news: “This is a great leap forward and will be of significant benefit for patients,” he said.

“The Society’s PPLG were most supportive of the consultation that took place prior to the decision and it will help to build on the excellent relationship that patients already have with radiographers.”

Eligible practitioners in England will start to be trained under Health and Care Professions Council accredited courses over the next few months. Existing therapeutic radiographer supplementary prescribers will be able to undertake a conversion course to become independent prescribers.

The administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will decide whether to adopt the same practice.

The joint chairs of the Society’s Prescribing Group, Sarah Griffiths and Jancis Kinsman, said, “We believe that this move will streamline the care that our patients receive by allowing us to be flexible with our prescribing to fully meet their needs. 

“There is still ongoing work to support the changes needed before therapeutic radiographers can prescribe controlled drugs, but we are also excited about this as it will improve the experience of palliative radiotherapy patients in particular,” they continued.

“We would like to acknowledge the work of the prescribing group and particularly Christina Freeman, the SCoR professional officer who led the consultation that took place before this decision. We look forward to making full use of our new prescribing rights to enhance our patients’ care.”

Kate Love, the Radiotherapy Services Manager at Bristol Cancer Institute, was also enthusiastic about the change. She said, “It will make a significant improvement to the timely care that patients receive during their radiotherapy treatment. 

“It is important to me that patients can be reviewed by suitably trained radiographers and have medication prescribed in an efficient, safe way without the additional processes required under supplementary prescribing.”

Charlotte Beardmore, Director of Professional Policy at SCoR welcomed this excellent news for patients and added “this change will importantly contribute to the ambitions articulated in the report by Independent Cancer Taskforce  Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes” She went on to say “We will continue to work with NHS England in developing the case for independent prescribing by diagnostic radiographers.

Suzanne Rastrick, the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, says it is very positive news. “NHS England has been advocating for more opportunities for allied health professionals to make use of the full range of their immense skills, so we welcome this announcement which will give patients receiving care from Dietitians, Orthoptists and Therapeutic Radiographers more timely access to the medicines they need.  

“It will help develop a more flexible workforce, able to make better use of their skills and innovate to provide services more responsive to the needs of patients, whilst also being cost effective,” she said.

Part of the Allied Health Professions Medicines Project, an initiative led by NHS England to extend prescribing, supply and administration of medicines to AHPs, new responsibilities are also being extended for dietitians and orthoptists.

Click here for more information about radiographer-led independent and supplementary prescribing.

Click here for the SCoR’s Practice Guidance for Radiographer Independent and/or Supplementary Prescribers.

Click here to read the responses made to the public consultation on the proposals to introduce independent prescribing by radiographers. 

Click here for the NHS England announcement. 

Click here to read Change is good for patients and Allied Health Professionals, a blog by Helen Marriott, the Allied Health Professions Medicines Project Lead at NHS England.

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