Placing physiotherapists at the heart of primary care

The demand for musculoskeletal (MSK) services, for conditions related to muscles, joints and bones, has increased year-on-year. This has resulted in the budget for these services being one of the largest in the NHS. 

There’s no doubt that this increasing rise in demand will continue so we must use and target our MSK resources more effectively to make sure services are sustainable.

The First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioner Programme is one example of how this is being put into practice. This newly developed initiative places physiotherapists in GP practices as a first point of contact for people with MSK conditions. Having direct access to an experienced physiotherapist means there are no unnecessary delays for patients in receiving the care they need. 

First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners are MSK specialists, so they’re able to quickly assess a patient’s condition and carry out any required treatment. They also have more time to spend with patients than a busy GP would, and can refer patients onto other MSK services if the need for further investigation or surgical assessment is identified.

The Partnership’s Improving Planned Care Programme, with the support of clinical teams in Harrogate and Leeds, submitted a bid for funding to the Local Workforce Action Board to progress the programme.

The bid was successful in gaining workforce development funding for twenty physiotherapists from MSK providers across West Yorkshire and Harrogate to undertake the PG Cert First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioner (MSK) Programme. 

University of Bradford Physiotherapy Department has done an amazing job in getting this brand-new course up and running in a short sFCP training.jpgpace of time so those physiotherapists gaining the qualification can start work in their new roles as quickly as possible.

On successful completion of the course, the newly qualified First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners will be based in one of our region’s 56 primary care networks (PCNs). Bringing GP practices together in PCNs offers patients access to a wider range of services, including this new physiotherapy service which will be accessible by all patients registered within that PCN. Adoption of this initiative across West Yorkshire and Harrogate will help to reduce any variation in treatment offered to people across our region.

It has been estimated that MSK conditions account for around one in five GP appointments, so this programme creates a great opportunity for highly skilled physiotherapists to support GPs and help increase capacity in general practice settings. In addition, the fact that First Contact Physiotherapy Practitioners can assess, diagnose, treat, make referrals and discharge patients means that people with such conditions get to see the right person, in the right place, the first time.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health & Care Partnership is hosted by NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group.
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