Independent prescribing (IP) is steadily growing in popularity as more practitioners embrace the opportunity to provide enhanced services to patients in practice. The qualification enables optometrists to clinically assess patients, establish a diagnosis, determine the clinical management and prescribe licensed medicines for conditions affecting the eye and tissues around the eye, within their area of expertise. Latest figures from the General Optical Council (GOC) reveal that the number of registrants on the Independent Prescribing Specialty register has increased from 611 in March 2018 to 1,344 in July 2022.
‘The increase in optometrists with IP qualifications may be due to the greater role the profession is fulfilling, particularly within new integrated eye care services, increasing availability of emergency eye care pathways and enhanced or supplementary care schemes,’ says Professor Lizzy Ostler (pictured below), director of education at the College of Optometrists. ‘Optometrists are increasingly involved in managing patients with more complex needs that would have previously been managed by other healthcare professionals in hospital eye care services,’ she says.
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