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Triage trial involving physios could be rolled out across Scotland

5 February 2009 - 3:25pm

Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that a triage system involving physiotherapists is being trialled and could be implemented across the country.

In a letter to Conservative shadow health secretary Mary Scanlon, Ms Sturgeon said that a pilot in NHS Lothian was testing the use of physiotherapists in the NHS24 service, the equivalent of England’s telephone triaging system, NHS Direct.

The health secretary was responding to Ms Scanlon’s parliamentary question on how the government intended to improve access to physiotherapy services in Scotland.

In the letter, dated 14 January, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘The chief health professions officer is currently working with NHS24 to utilise allied health professionals’ expertise within their call centre to provide improved access to physiotherapy services in NHS Lothian as a pilot programme in the first instance.

Earlier access

‘The introduction of a centralised triage system within outpatient physiotherapy will reduce waiting times by providing earlier access to screening, advice and relevant treatment. It will reduce the number of GP referrals and speed up onward referral to orthopaedic surgery. Following evaluation, this model has the potential to be rolled out across NHS Scotland and is transferable for other conditions such as occupational health.’

CSP policy officer for Scotland Kenryck Lloyd-Jones said the news was warmly welcomed and followed earlier CSP recommendations. ‘In evidence to the Scottish parliament last year, CSP Scotland called for the inclusion of physiotherapy within NHS24. There are numerous examples of where physiotherapy advice can promote rehabilitation and prevent pain and discomfort for service users. Clearly the Scottish government has listened.’

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