The UK could become the first country in the world in which physiotherapists and podiatrists are able to prescribe medicines to patients.
Under newly unveiled government plans, physiotherapists and podiatrists who have successfully completed Health Professions Council (HPC)-approved education programmes and are annotated on the HPC register could be prescribing independently by 2014.
The aim of these proposals is to facilitate access to treatments such as pain relief medication and anti-inflammatories among patients with conditions including chronic pain, diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders.
It will also allow the NHS to take full advantage of the extensive training and expertise offered by physiotherapists and podiatrists.
Health minister Lord Howe said: "By introducing these changes, we aim to make the best use of their skills and allow patients to benefit from a faster and more effective service, without compromising on safety."
The move has been warmly welcomed by industry bodies such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which has campaigned for this change for ten years.See all the latest jobs in Medical Devices