10 September 2020

Last week, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists joined forces with the British Dietetic Association, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society and the Society of Radiographers to call on the Government to extend prescribing rights to our members.

In a joint letter to Jo Churchill, the Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, we called on the Government to use the opportunity of the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill’s passage through Parliament to maximise the impact of our members. This would enable them to rise even more to the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as potential future challenges — there is predicted to be a huge increase in demand on services for both recovering COVID-19 patients and for non-COVID-19 patients who require the specialist support of SLTs and other AHPs.

Our case for prescribing rights to be extended is simple: it will deliver a range of benefits to patient care and potential savings to the NHS. These include:

  • better support and more timely care for patients;
  • improved patient safety;
  • reduced pressure on other stretched professionals, including GPs; and
  • improved system efficiency, both from the perspective of the patient and other health professionals.

We’re calling for supplementary prescribing rights to be extended to occupational therapists, and independent prescribing rights to be extended to dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, diagnostic radiographers and SLTs.

Speaking after signing the letter to Jo Churchill, and following the RCSLT’s submission to the Public Bill Committee examining the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill, RCSLT Chief Executive Kamini Gadhok said:

“We’re proud of how our members have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of supporting people with the virus and in continuing to help many others who have non-COVID-19 communication and swallowing needs.

“Our members could do so much right now, and in the months and years to come, to help deliver better and more timely patient care and reduce pressures on the wider health and social care system.

“That is why we’ve been pleased to join forces with our other allied health professions colleagues in calling for prescribing rights to be extended to SLTs. The Medicines and Medical Devices Bill represents a unique opportunity to empower our members to better support their patients and other health colleagues. We hope the Government grasps this opportunity so that their impact can be maximised.”