Advice line: Opportunities for physios in primary care settings

There are exciting opportunities for physios in primary care settings across the UK, says Andy Lord.

With an ageing and growing population presenting with an increasingly complex range of conditions, the demand for primary care is set to rocket. Given the predicted shortage of GPs, change is vital.
NHS England’s Five year forward view recognises the challenges facing primary care. Its call for the development of multispecialty community providers (MCPs) could help to widen the scope of primary care services. With up to 30 per cent of primary care consultations being due to musculoskeletal (MSK) problems, physiotherapists could become MCPs and take a larger role as the first point of contact 
for patients.
Physios in Scotland are already the first point of contact for patients via self-referral, with all health boards offering either a full or partial service. Service models where physiotherapists are taking on GP-style assessment and advice roles are being developed throughout the UK with encouraging results. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board has been running one such service since 2009. Giving rapid access, face-to-face MSK assessment and advice has produced impressive patient satisfaction levels averaging 9.6/10. 
MCPs in England will not need to re-invent the wheel, rather they can learn from their neighbours and use what best fits local population needs.
Elsewhere, independent prescribing offers physios the chance to provide primary care ‘one-stop-shops’. Not only does this mean greater convenience for patients, it also means greater savings on GPs’ time, essentially saving money. By projecting the economic impact of independent prescribing, compelling business cases can be developed to enable funding for training. Perhaps we need to start being more comfortable with making projections of our impact so that support for postgraduate training can be further realised. 
  • Andy Lord is a CSP professional adviser 

More information

  • For more on MCPs, visit NHS England and search for ‘moc-care’
Andy Lord, CSP professional adviser

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