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NHS GP surgeries across the country may be set to introduce first-contact physiotherapy (FCP) services as part of a new pilot initiative.
Sustainability and transformation partnerships across England have been given until the end of June to identify areas for large-scale pilots of FCP posts in GP surgeries. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) will work with NHS England to provide the right information and advice on how to develop these services.
FCP services have already been trialled in numerous parts of the country, with GP-based physiotherapists helping the other members of the medical team to manage their primary care caseload of patients with musculoskeletal conditions. This not only improves the patient experience, but frees up GP time to spend on other patients.
More than eight out of ten GPs already have confidence in this model, suggesting it could have significant benefits if established more widely across the NHS. Around 90 STP leads have attended CSP webinars and events on this topic over the last fortnight, meaning more FCP services could be up and running in the near future.
CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said: "This is a significant opportunity. It shows commissioners that the profession is a solution to challenges facing the NHS and means exciting opportunities for many physios.
"Most importantly, it means better care for patients. But we need to act now; making this happen in reality is largely dependent on CSP members driving it forward."
Other advantages offered by general practice physiotherapy services include the fact that they can independently prescribe and provide injection therapies, and will soon be able to issue fit notes. Their advanced practice skills can reduce pressure not only on GPs, but also on other physiotherapy services.
Written by Mathew Horton
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