The Department of Health has announced new powers for physiotherapists and podiatrists to prescribe drugs.
Health minister Lord Howe said patients could benefit from faster access to medicines such as pain relief and anti-inflammatories thanks to the proposed new prescribing powers for advanced practitioners.
Once suitably trained, physiotherapists and podiatrists in the UK would be the first in the world to be able to independently prescribe medicines where clinically appropriate.
The DoH said physiotherapists would be able to prescribe medicines for issues such as chronic pain and respiratory diseases like asthma.
Podiatrists who treat patients with a wide range of conditions including diabetic foot ulcers and arthritic disorders in the foot and ankle would be able to prescribe medication, if required, more promptly.
"Physiotherapists and podiatrists are highly trained clinicians who play a vital role in ensuring patients receive integrated care that helps them recover after treatment or manage a long term condition successfully," 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 Health Professions Council said it will launch a consultation in the Autumn on new standards for prescribing practice, to take account of these changes.
"We anticipate that, subject to the change in medicines legislation, education programmes will start to deliver training in independent prescribing in autumn 2013," the HPC said today.
"Of the professions we regulate, chiropodists/podiatrists, physiotherapists and radiographers can currently complete training to become supplementary prescribers.
"Supplementary prescribers can only prescribe a medicine where the medicine is listed in an agreed clinical management plan. This plan sets out the care to be provided to a patient and is agreed with the patient.
"By contrast, independent prescribers have greater autonomy as they can prescribe any medicine within their competence and knowledge, without being limited to the medicines listed in the clinical management plan.
"As a regulator, we will play an important role in making sure that chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists are able to act as independent prescribers safely and effectively.
"We will set standards for independent prescribing, approve education programmes delivering training in independent prescribing and mark on our Register where individuals have completed the appropriate training.
"Chiropodists/podiatrists and physiotherapists must complete appropriate training and have their entry on our Register annotated (or marked) before they are able to start prescribing independently."