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HCPC launches consultation on draft standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists to sell, supply and administer medicine


HCPC consultation

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has today launched a consultation on draft standards for the use of medicines exemptions by orthoptists. 

NHS England, with the four country governments, has proposed amendments to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 legislation to enable appropriately-trained orthoptists to sell, supply and administer certain prescription-only medicines on their own initiative as part of their practice.

Currently, orthoptists are not able to prescribe medicines for patients in the way that doctors, dentists and some other qualified health professionals can, although they may supply or administer medicines without a prescription in some cases.

If the proposals set out in the consultation document are accepted, the HCPC would:

• set standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists;
• annotate the Register entries of orthoptists who are qualified to use the exemptions; and
• approve post-registration programmes delivering relevant training.

Michael Guthrie, Director of HCPC Policy and Standards, commented:
“The proposed draft standards aim to ensure the safe and effective use of exemptions by orthoptists, enabling them to provide the most appropriate medicine to service users more quickly. These new arrangements would benefit service users by reducing unnecessary delays to their treatment.

“The proposed standards were drafted with input from NHS England, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, orthoptic education providers and other members of the AHP Medicines Project Board. 

“We now welcome views from all stakeholders. This feedback will let us know what they think about the proposed draft standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists, and if they are set at the level necessary for safe and effective sale, supply and administration of medicines via exemptions.”

To take part in the consultation which will run until 3 May 2016, visit, email or write to Consultation on draft standards for the use of exemptions by orthoptists to sell, supply and administer medicines, Policy and Standards Department, Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU.

Notes to editors

1 The two current situations where orthoptists may supply or administer medicines without a prescription are as follows:

• patient specific direction (PSD), where an independent prescriber gives an instruction to another professional to administer a medicine to a specific patient.
• patient group direction (PGD), where a written instruction is agreed and signed by a senior doctor and pharmacist for the supply or administration of specific medicines by named health professionals to certain groups of patients (for example with the same treatment needs).

2 The consultation will run from 8 March 2016 until 3 May 2016 and necessary changes to legislation to introduce the use of exemptions by orthoptists should be in place in mid-2016. The HCPC will analyse the responses once the consultation closes, publish the comments received and explain the decisions made as a result. The HCPC then plans to publish the approved standards in autumn 2016 and new training programmes for orthoptists are expected to commence from early 2017. The results will be of particular interest to orthoptists and professionals who work with them.

3 The Health and Care Professions Council is an independent regulator set up by the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. The HCPC keeps a register for 16 different health and care professions and only registers people who meet the standards it sets for their training, professional skills, behaviour and health. The HCPC will take action against professionals who do not meet these standards or who use a protected title illegally.

4 The HCPC currently regulates the following 16 professions. Each of these professions has one or more ‘protected titles’. Anyone who uses one of these titles must register with the HCPC. To see the full list of protected titles please see 
Arts therapists
Biomedical scientists
Chiropodists / podiatrists
Clinical scientists
Hearing aid dispensers
Occupational therapists
Operating department practitioners
Practitioner psychologists
Prosthetists / orthotists
Social workers in England
Speech and language therapists

5. The HCPC regulates social workers in England. Social workers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are separately regulated by the relevant Care Council in that country.

6. To contact us via social media, use the Twitter handle @The_HCPC or search The Health and Care Professions Council on Facebook or LinkedIn.


Grant Imlach
(0)20 7840 9784

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