Quicker access to NHS treatment is promised by allowing patients to refer themselves for treatment without seeing a GP first, Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said.
He will tell the Chief Health Professions Officers conference in London that self-referral also means more flexibility and less time off work.
He will say: "I am giving the green light to physiotherapists, podiatrists and all allied health professionals that they can accept patients who self-refer.
"This will help both vulnerable members of society and those with busy lives by providing quicker access without the unnecessary hoop-jumping of going to see a doctor first."
Allied health professionals (AHPs) include physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and podiatrists, who treat problems with the feet and lower legs. Currently patients need a referral from their GP.
Measures to help the introduction of self-referral services will be announced next month. But the implementation will be down to individual PCTs.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP Committee, said: "This has the potential to improve patient access to health services as long as there is good communication between doctors, patients and allied health professionals and also sufficient capacity."
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"In Glasgow it has been possible to self-refer to physios etc for several years!" – Janis Forbes, Glasgow
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