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Strategy gives green light to physio self-referral

3 July 2008 - 2:50pm

The CSP has welcomed the emphasis given to self-referral in a new government strategy for primary and community care launched today.

The Department of Health said the strategy aimed to deliver ‘faster and simpler’ access to community-based health services including physiotherapy self-referral. Health minister Ben Bradshaw launched the new strategy which which follows on from Lord Darzi's final report on the future of the NHS.

'Other choices'

Extending choice in primary care is one of the main themes of the strategy. It says staff such as allied health professionals and community nursing teams will increasingly provide a range of ‘other choices’ for the local public. These will range from self-referral to musculoskeletal services for people with back pain to specialist services for homeless people. The strategy document says pilots for physiotherapy self-referral have shown ‘high levels of patient satisfaction and a positive impact in helping people stay at work.’

'Physio is core'

CSP chief executive Phil Gray said: 'The Society is pleased to see the green light, which the strategy gives to physiotherapy self-referral. It gives an endorsement to commissioners to pick up self-referral as a way of improving access to treatment and follows the pioneering work of self-referral schemes in Scotland and in many parts of England. 'Self-referral to physiotherapy has been shown to improve access and choice for patients in a straightforward and cost-effective way. It promotes individual personal responsibility for health, increases user satisfaction and enables best use of GP time.' He added: 'This strategy recognises that physiotherapy and other allied health professions are core to developing more effective, accessible and cost-efficient services.'

'More jobs'

Speaking at the launch of the strategy, David Colin-Thomé national director for primary care and an advisor on the strategy (pictured right), said where ‘open access’ to physiotherapy had been offered it had produced ‘spectacular’ results. ‘We expect an expansion of this but we are not setting any targets.' Professor Colin-Thome said he hoped to see more resources being put into primary care and that he expected more therapy jobs would be created. The government said the strategy was building on £250 million ‘extra investment and recent initatives in primary care’. James Kingsland, a GP on the advisory board who also chairs the National Association of Primary Care (pictured left), said he expected physiotherapy self-referral to be taken up widely because successful practices would encourage others to follow suit. NHS Next Stage Review: Our vision for primary and community care

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