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South African Medical Journal

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Psychologists' right to prescribe – should prescribing privileges be granted to South African psychologists?

Graham Lindegger

Abstract


Current changes in legislation regarding prescription rights increase the possibility of non-medical practitioners being authorised to presctibe medication. There has been ongoing debate about granting psychologists in South Africa a limited right to prescribe (RTP) psychotropic medication. The main reasons advanced for granting psychologists RTP include the advantage of delivering integrated treatments, with psychologistS well placed to offer such treatment, and the shortage of mental health practitioners in South Africa. If psychologists were granted the RTP they would have to undergo extensive training in psychopharmacology. Curricula for such training are currently being prepared with the help of the American Psychological Association. But there is also considerable opposition to psychologists being granted the RTP, both from within psychology and from other quarters. Opposition from outside psychology is based largely safety considerations relating to lack of relevant f trammg among psychologists. Opposition from within psychology is based on a concern about the loss of the distinctive contribution of psychology to mental health care Iin South Africa. Various aspects of this debate are examined in this paper.




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