Physiotherapists could soon be given the right to prescribe medication in the same way as nurses and pharmacists.
Proposals being considered by the Department of Health would see the law changed to allow physiotherapists to independently prescribe drugs.
Under the current system, physiotherapists can only hand out prescriptions if they have written permission from a doctor.
Nurses were given prescribing powers in the 1990s, and advocates now hope that the proposed reforms will help to improve patient care and allow faster access to treatment.
The move could see specially trained physiotherapists able to recommend medication for conditions including respiratory diseases and neurological illnesses, as well as treatment for pain relief.
An online consultation has been opened into the proposals, which will be available until December 8.
Supporters of the plans include the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which has campaigned for the changes to be introduced.
Chairwoman Ann Green said the consultation was “a major step forward towards the goal of improving patient care delivered by physiotherapists”.
<http://www.csp.org.uk/> (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy)