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This page provides links to further advice as well as answers to frequently asked questions

Sources of further advice

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for regulating medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. They are therefore best placed to answer any questions about specific medicines.

NICE Medicines and prescribing centre provide a comprehensive suite of guidance, advice and support for delivering quality, safety and efficiency in the use of medicines. 

If you are a prescriber, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) published a Competency Framework for all Prescribers in July 2016, which we have adopted as our standards for prescribers. It is an excellent resource for any prescriber regardless of their professional background. 

More from the RPS


The professional bodies of our prescribing professions also publish practice guidance, including:

  • The British Dietetic Association, here
  • The College of Paramedics, here
  • The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, here
  • The College of Podiatry, here
  • The Society of Radiographers, here

Medicines classifications

There are different classifications of medicine. Each classification of medicine has different restrictions on who can administer, sell, supply or prescribe it.

If you use a particular medicine in your practice, it is important you understand its medicine classification so you can ensure you are practising within the law and your scope of practice.

HCPC is unable to provide specific guidance on specific medicines or their classification. Instead, guidance on classifications is provided on the MHRA website. You should speak to the MHRA if you have any specific questions about medicines.

Advertising of prescription-only medicines

There are rules in place which prohibit the promotion of prescription-only medicines (POMs) to the general public.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 prohibits any advertisement wholly or mainly directed to the general public which is likely to lead to the use of a POM. This includes advertising the prescription, sale, supply or use of a prescription-only product.

Rule 12.12 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code states:
Prescription-only medicines or prescription-only medical treatments may not be advertised to the public.

This extends to all media, including social media and on websites, and both paid-for advertisements and non-paid-for marketing posts or communications.

Registrants who administer, supply or prescribe prescription-only medicines should therefore ensure they do not directly or indirectly promote or advertise these in their practice.

For more information, you can read an article about this on the CAP website. The CAP also offer a bespoke copy advice service.

If you are unsure whether the medicines you administer, supply or prescribe are classified as prescription-only, you should speak to the MHRA.


We have created COVID-19 advice pages, to support you to apply our standards during the pandemic. Content on medical entitlements and vaccines can be found below.


  • The answer to this question will depend on extent of cover your current arrangement gives you.

    Firstly, your indemnity insurance can only give you cover if you are legally able to do something. So, you should always check you have the right to practise in this way first.

    If you are legally able to do this, you will need to speak to your insurance provider to confirm this covers your full scope of practice. It is especially important to do this if your scope of practice has changed, for example if you’ve recently qualified to be a prescriber. 

    Most professional indemnity arrangements are provided by employers, so we recommend speaking to them in the first instance. Alternatively, this may be provided by your professional body membership.

    We also issue guidance on professional indemnity insurance on our website.  

  • The easiest way to check which medical entitlements your profession currently has is to review our table of medical entitlements for our registered professions.

    You can learn more about what these medical entitlements mean here.

  • Whether or not you can prescribe unlicensed medicines will depend on if you are using your independent or supplementary prescribing rights.

    Our registrants cannot independently prescribe unlicensed medicines. Only doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists are able to independently prescribe unlicensed medicines.

    For more information, please contact the MHRA – the UK medicines regulator.

  • Our professions’ medical rights are set by law. The law therefore needs to change for new professions to access new medicines mechanism.

    In the first instance, it is best to approach your professional body to lobby for a change in law. NHS England work with professional bodies on behalf of the four countries of the UK to consider the supply, administration and prescribing of medicines by new professions. You can read more about this process here.

  • No. Just because you are legally entitled to administer or prescribe medicines does not mean you will be required to in every role you work in.

    Importantly, you will need to ensure you only practise within your scope of practice – the limit of your skills, knowledge and experience. Even if you are legally entitled to administer or prescribe, you will need to ensure you are trained in this as well as the medicines you are working with to make sure you can practise safely and effectively.

    Medicines rights will also not always be relevant in every role you work in. Whilst the HCPC requires registrants to operate within their current scope of practice, sometimes employers will ask registrants to work in a more limited scope of practice, and this is ok. This might be because of operational constraints, the level of indemnity insurance cover for the role, or the type of equipment available. Registrants should follow their employer’s advice and local policies about this.

    If you have any concerns about service user safety as a result of local policies, you should raise this locally. You may want to seek additional advice from your trade union and / or professional body to support you.

  • Medical rights are tied to particular professions and are not transferable. This means, for example, if you are a dual physiotherapist / ODP,  but only qualified as a prescriber as a physiotherapist, you can only prescribe when practising as a physiotherapist and not as an ODP.

    This applies for all medical rights, and so would also include PGDs and exemptions. This also applies if you are dual registered with another regulator or are working in a non-registered role, as well as a registered profession. You will need to keep this in mind if taking on these types of roles at work, but also wanting to use your medical rights.

Page updated on: 25/03/2021