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Northern Ireland NHS physio self-referral pilot will empower patients

23 June 2015 - 2:44pm

The long-awaited start of self-referral to physiotherapy in Northern Ireland has begun with the launch of a pilot at the South Eastern Trust.

01 Northern Ireland NHS physio self-referral pilot will empower patients

Downe Hospital Physiotherapy Team, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

The initiative, enabling adults with musculoskeletal problems to refer themselves to a physiotherapist without seeing their GP first, went live on 15 June.

Bridie McKeating is the trust’s physiotherapy lead. She said the pilot would raise the profile of physiotherapy in the community and transform the relationship between patients and physios.

‘It will empower patients, particularly in relationship to self-management,’ she said. ‘I hope that patients will be able to decide when to seek advice and be more confident about managing their conditions.’

File 157521Lisburn Health Centre Physiotherapy Team, Lisburn, Northern Ireland

The pilot is expected to run for up to six months. It could pave the way for self-referral to physiotherapy across Northern Ireland, bringing it into step with other parts of the UK.

Ms McKeating said that, based on projects elsewhere in the UK, she was confident physiotherapy self-referral would be implemented in Northern Ireland too.

Michelle Tennyson, assistant director of allied health professions at the Public Health Agency, said self-referral was a significant move towards making physiotherapists more accessible to patients.

‘Physiotherapists are independent, first-contact practitioners who can respond immediately to the needs of patients and clients and are continuously looking for new ways of working that will improve patients’ experiences,’ she said.

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