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Self-referral can play key part in new patient-focused services

CSP press release published on 21 October 2008

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy welcomes self-referral pilot results

Responding to ‘Self-referral pilots to musculoskeletal physiotherapy and the implications for improving access to other AHP services, published today [1] ’by the Department of Health, Phil Gray, chief executive at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, says:

‘Sixty years on, it is not surprising that the traditional design and delivery of services in the NHS must change to meet the needs and expectations of today.  New ways of working, new roles and new services must develop that have at their heart the delivery of first class patient-focused services.

‘Maximising the use of appropriate self-referral or direct access to NHS physiotherapy services, particularly in the management of musculoskeletal problems and long-term conditions, prevents the ‘merry-go-round’ between GP, consultant and physiotherapist that many patients undergo in seeking treatment. It also frees up the time of these medical colleagues.

‘Increased flexibility in appointment times, direct access and self-referral enhance patient choice and control. Patients can make their own appointment at the time suits them best – particularly important for those in work.  Direct access to correct services, individual advice and education provides a supportive environment that enables patients to self manage their condition safely in the long term.


‘The economic argument for investing resources to manage the problem at source, through self-referral, is irrefutable.’



[1] The full report will be launched by Alan Johnson at the Chief Health Professions Officer’s conference and is embargoed until 11.45am on Tuesday 21 September, when it will be available from

Notes to editors

1. For more information, please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 6628. Out of hours call 07786 332197.

2. The Department of Health worked in partnership with six sites and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to pilot self-referral to musculoskeletal physiotherapy for the report ‘Self-referral pilots to musculoskeletal physiotherapy and the implications for improving access to other AHP services’.

3. With a broad background in all aspects of health care, physiotherapists are well placed to act as first contact practitioners as well as offering skilled specialist advice. Physiotherapists are able to assess, diagnose, treat as appropriate, enable self-management or refer as appropriate, without the need for initial medical referral. 

4. NHS referrals to physiotherapy can be gained through your GP, or you can contact your local NHS physiotherapy department, to ask about self-referral. Alternatively, find a private physiotherapist near you at

5. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 47,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants.


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