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BPS News

Prescribing rights for some psychologists - an update

23 November 2020

In response to an initial request from NHS England (NHSE) in 2016, the BPS embarked on an extended programme of engagement and consultation about whether some psychologists should be given the option to train to be able to prescribe medication.

Between 2018 and October 2020, we consulted with our members and groups including other professions, service users and the general public.  The evidence gathered indicated that there were more people in favour of giving some psychologists the option to prescribe medication, compared to those that opposed it. You can read a summary of the evidence by clicking the links below this article.

Following the conclusion of this work, the BPS has confirmed that it wants to remain involved and engaged in a constructive dialogue with NHSE about prescribing rights. Committing to continuing conversations with NHSE does not mean that prescribing rights for some psychologists have now been agreed, nor does it mean that the society’s position on this issue is fixed. NHSE has said that it does not need the BPS to have a firm position at this point and they have confirmed that we can withdraw from the process later should we decide to do so.

Throughout the work on prescribing rights we have focused on two important areas; what would produce the best outcomes for service users and what would work best for the profession. We will continue to listen to our members views on both these areas.

During the period of consultation and engagement, it became clear that there are deeply held, passionate views on both sides of the debate. The BPS embraces a wide range of different perspectives and when faced with complex issues, such as prescribing rights, there is often a difference of opinion among our members about what overall stance the society should take and how we should come to a position.

As a society dedicated to listening to its members, we have now committed to a further piece of work to give our members the opportunity to share their views on a range of issues, including prescribing; issues which some people feel go to the heart of what it means to be a psychologist both now and in the future.

Alison Clarke, Chair of the BPS’s Practice Board, said:

“Thanks to all those who have taken part in the work carried out, particularly the Prescribing Rights Task and Finish Group. We will use the evidence gathered to advise NHSE about this important issue, which elicits passionate views from many different people.

Psychology has a valuable contribution to make in the many walks of life where we engage with people. The BPS is already a ‘broad church’ and we believe we will achieve our greatest influence by continuing to engage with a diverse range of views, supported by the evidence and views of our colleagues.”


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