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New Service Launched: Physios Available For First Consultations In Primary Care

New Service Launched: Physios Available For First Consultations In Primary Care

Date of release: 24 August 2020

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is providing a physiotherapy service as a first point of contact in a programme that benefits patients in several ways. 

Clinical workload in general practice (GP) is increasing throughout the UK, over and above the population growth and the growth in GP numbers.

Latest News: Tina Hadley-Barrows, Consultant Physiotherapist with patient Laura Perks
Tina Hadley-Barrows, Consultant Physiotherapist with patient Laura Perks
Latest News: Tina Hadley-Barrows, Consultant Physiotherapist, demonstrating exercises at her screen
Tina Hadley-Barrows, Consultant Physiotherapist, demonstrating exercises at her screen

GP surgeries now provide 370 million consultations every year, 70 million more than five years ago. Despite this, GP numbers have remained relatively static, if not decreased.

And with an ageing population and an increase in chronic illnesses, the pressure and demands on general practice will continue to rise. 

Bone, joint and muscle problems lead to over 30 million lost working days each year. Around one in five people book to see their GP when they experience these type of problems when they could actually be seen by a physio.

The GP may prescribe advice or medication, request blood tests or x-rays, refer on to physiotherapy or to other specialist services including the hospital. 

First Contact Physiotherapists (FCPs) could see up to half of all patients with these conditions that are currently seen by GPs, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).

Allowing patients more direct access to the specialist physiotherapy care they need reduces pressure on GPs’ time, allowing them to manage patients who require their expertise.

The FCP programme is being rolled out for patients at all 10 of the Trust’s GP surgeries.  

FCPs, who are also known as Advanced Practice Physiotherapists (APP) or MSK Practitioners, assess patients and diagnose their condition, advise on how best to manage the issue, prescribe exercises, and if necessary, refer the patient for investigations or to other specialist services.

National evaluations have shown FCP services are clinically safe as well as being cost effective, with 95 per cent of patients not needing a follow-up appointment with their GP.

Tina Hadley-Barrows, Consultant Physiotherapist at the Trust, said: “This approach puts physiotherapy expertise at the beginning of a patient’s experience, where they can most benefit from timely specialist input, in the place where they are most likely to seek help first.

“The expansion of roles within general practice will also support GPs, enhance how patient care is delivered and build sustainability, capacity and diversity in our primary care services.”

Dr John Burrell, a practising GP at Penn Manor and Clinical Director of RWT Primary Care Services, said: “The expertise of the FCP provides improved standards in patient care and a better patient experience. The patients are provided with a clear plan in most cases around exercises they can do at home.”


Notes to Editor:

  • For further information, please call Tim Nash on 07714 741097 or email tim.nash2@nhs.net

  • Regarding GP numbers - according to Royal College of General Practitioners. A blueprint for building the new deal in general practice in England. London: Royal College of General Practitioners; 2015.

  • Regarding lost working days - according to a report published by Public Health England in March 2017.

  • Regarding FCPs - according to Arthritis Research UK National Primary Care Centre. What do general practitioners see? Musculoskeletal Matters Bulletin no1. 2009. https://www.keele.ac.uk/media/keeleuniversity/ri/primarycare/bulletins/MusculoskeletalMatters1.pdf, Jordan K, Clarke AM, Symmons DP, et al. Measuring disease prevalence: a comparison of musculoskeletal disease using four general practice consultation databases. Br J Gen Pract. 2007;57(534):7-14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2032694/, Royal College of General Practitioners Birmingham Research Unit. Weekly returns service annual prevalence report 2007. London: Royal College of General Practitioners 2007. http://ghdx.healthdata.org/record/united-kingdom-england-and-walesweekly-returns-service-annual-report-2007

  • The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy - Information for Editors:
    For more information please contact Mindy Dalloway, Campaigns and Regional Engagement Officer, The CSP dallowaym@csp.org.uk 0207 306 6163.

    The CSP is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s 59,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants: www.csp.org.uk
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