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Report shows rise in physiotherapy in primary care in Wales

3 March 2017 - 1:30pm

Greater use of physiotherapy in primary care has been highlighted in a report on how GP services are provided for older people in Wales.

Primary care jump graphic

The report highlights a successful pilot that saw physios working in GP practices

Sarah Rochira, the older people’s commissioner for Wales, published the report, GP Services in Wales: The Perspective of Older People, in February.

More than 1,600 older people were polled for the report, and a range of NHS organisations and charities contributed to the findings.

The report recorded successful innovations in expanding access to physiotherapy and found an appetite for better access to physio in primary care.

It highlighted the work of a pilot at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in north Wales, where two physios worked as the first point of call across four GP practices. In the first six months of the pilot, the physios saw 1,525 patients who would normally have been seen by a GP. Only 23 of these patients needed any GP input, and secondary care referrals from the practices fell by 12 per cent during this time.

More up-to-date figures from Betsi Cadwaladr show that a physio service is now provided in 49 GP practices. These services include 19 non-medical independent prescribers and 29 physios who can carry out injection therapy and non-medical referrals.

Raise awareness of physio in primary care

Of the older people questioned for the report, 60 per cent said they were aware that they could access health professionals other than GPs in the community, and a number of respondents spoke very highly of accessing this range of primary health services rather than relying solely on their GP.

CSP policy officer for Wales, Philippa Ford, welcomed the commissioner’s look at alternatives to GP appointments as part of her review.

‘It was also interesting to note that many older people are simply not aware of the alternatives to seeing a GP and therefore do not have support to access other health professionals,’ she said.

‘We need to improve peoples’ knowledge and awareness of how to access physiotherapy in primary care.’

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