Landmark UK law allows physiotherapists and podiatrists to prescribe

New laws which come into force today mean trained practitioners will be able to give their patients prescription medication such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories without getting a sign-off from a doctor.

Experts said the "landmark" initiative will speed up patients' experience and will also free up time for GPs.

Under the new legislation, the "advanced practitioners" will no longer have to refer their patients back to another healthcare worker – such as a GP – if medication is needed.

It is expected that patients will start to reap the benefits from next year when the first wave of practitioners will have passed their courses.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said the health workers will only be able to prescribe medicines "relevant to their role".

Physiotherapists will be able to prescribe medicines for conditions such as chronic pain and podiatrists will be able to prescribe drugs to patients with diabetes