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Put physios in A&E to ease pressures and cut waiting times, CSP says

CSP press release published on 23 December 2014

Placing physiotherapists in every A&E department could cut waiting times, reduce admissions and save money for the NHS, according to a new briefing.

Specialist physiotherapists working in that setting carry out expert assessments, order X-rays and other tests and provide immediate advice and treatment.

Advanced practitioners who have completed additional training can also provide injections and prescribe medicines.

This helps to address medical staff shortages, frees up doctors for more complex cases and cuts waiting times for patients.

It also saves money - when Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust introduced an advanced physiotherapist role to assess, diagnose and treat people presenting with musculoskeletal injuries, the new pathway cut costs by £32 per patient, a 60 per cent reduction.

About a fifth of the 18.3m people attending casualty in 2012-13 had a musculoskeletal condition, which demonstrates the scale of savings that could be on offer by making more physiotherapists available alongside traditional roles in A&E.

Prof Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said:

“The pressures on A&E are well-known but this way to alleviate some of them and improve the system for patients is often overlooked.

“Where physiotherapists are already working in that setting, they are making a real difference to waiting times, the quality of service patients receive in A&E and crucially for older people, what happens to them once they leave.

“The evidence is clear that this approach works and to tackle the immediate problem – while addressing the long-term issues around out-of-hospital care – physiotherapists should be available in every A&E.”

The benefits would spread beyond patients with MSK conditions, the CSP believes.

People aged 65 and over are the fastest growing group of patients attending A&E and for this group, physiotherapists assess and manage attendees, including those who have fallen, to avoid unnecessary admission.

They also enable timely discharge to a safe environment with appropriate therapy or social support to prevent re-admission.

Patients with a range of other conditions, such as COPD and asthma, could also be seen.


Notes to editors

For further media information about the CSP please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111, email Out of hours please call Becca Bryant, head of press and PR (job-share) on 079172 40819, Jennie Edmondson, head of press and PR (job share) on 07786 332197, Jon Ryan, senior media adviser, on 07917 091200.

1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have more than 52,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.

2. The briefing can be read here.


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