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Prescribing Rights for Psychologists

The Professional Practice Board established a project group in 2018 to consider whether there is a need for the extension of prescribing and medicines supply mechanisms to include qualified statutorily regulated psychologists.


This review was originally requested by NHS England, and could have the potential to improve the experience of service users as well as giving the profession an opportunity to progress.

At this time, we are still at an exploratory stage and no decisions have been made, but we have recognised the need for further information to allow an informed decision as to whether psychologists should have prescribing rights.

During our preliminary consultations three main areas of concern were raised, so I wanted to address these up front:

  1. Should psychologists as a profession gain prescribing rights, the choice of an individual psychologist to train and prescribe would be optional
  2. A programme of training, mentoring and post qualification governance would have to be agreed to meet the regulations and standards set out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Health and Care Professions Council to ensure that psychologists have the appropriate competencies to fulfil the role
  3. Should psychologists gain prescribing rights, it would be expected that they would be working within a multidisciplinary team or practice network that would enable seamless access to medical support to meet the physical health needs of service users; they would not be working in isolation in private practice

Other professions which have obtained non-medical prescribing rights have faced up to ten years or more until they saw the first prescribers in their profession trained.

At this stage, we want to ensure that we have engaged as far as possible with BPS members and other stakeholders to ensure that your views are listened to.

Thank you for engaging.

Rebecca Courtney-Walker

Chair, BPS Prescribing Rights Task and Finish Group

Prescribing rights for some psychologists - an update (November 2020)

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 using the links below.

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.

Read the article

You may also like to view the following documents: 

Frequently asked questions
  • Is this project a result of pressure or money from big pharma companies?

    No, this project is a result of an approach by NHS England.

    None of the task and finish group members have any links to pharmaceutical companies, nor have we been approached by them.

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    If you have any queries, please contact the Customer Support Team


  • Why are you working on the details of prescribing for psychologists when the decision has not yet been made as to whether they should prescribe?

    Much of the feedback we received in our preliminary work was that people were unable to decide whether psychologists ‘should’ become prescribers because they didn't understand what that would look like in practice;

    Consequently we're aiming to provide that detail to inform people's decisions.

    Therefore the 'could we' is an integral element of the 'should we' question.

    Feedback indicates that respondents want to know more about whether we could reach the competencies to prescribe safely before deciding; therefore, both need to be answered before we finally decide 'will we'.

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    If you have any queries, please contact the Customer Support Team.


  • Would prescribing become part of core training for all psychologists?

    No, it wouldn't.

    As with other non-medical prescribing professions, prescribing would be optional and would require separate post qualification training.

    This training would only be open to psychologists with a period of three years post qualification/HCPC registered practitioner experience in their area of expertise.

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    If you have any queries, please contact the Customer Support Team.


  • How can psychologists safely prescribe when they aren’t trained?

    If prescribing rights were extended to psychologists, those who chose to would need to complete specialist training with robust entry requirements, mentoring and post qualification governance.

    It would also include ongoing clinical supervision from an experienced prescriber. 

    This is already undertaken by several other professions who are non-medical prescribers and has been shown to be safe.

    Psychologists have been prescribing in the USA since 1997.

    There haven't been any malpractice or similar litigation suits brought against Psychologist Prescribers in relation to prescribing practice or related issues.

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  • Could independent practitioners be prescribers?

    People wishing to become prescribers must have been practising in the context where they wish to prescribe for at least three years. They must also be part of a multi-disciplinary team or practice network to make sure governance processes are in place to support safe prescribing.

    Whilst this wouldn't rule out all independent practitioners, those working in isolation would be unable to meet the requirements for safe practice.

    Prescribing professions are regulated by the HCPC so this would be regulated as part of a person's practitioner membership.

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    If you have any queries, please contact the Customer Support Team