Editor's comment: better for everyone

First contact physiotherapy makes perfect sense

When one in every five GP appointments are for MSK issues, there’s clear demand for a service that gives patients access to the right clinical skills at the right time, so they get expert assessment and advice without delay or hassle.  

The physio, the GP and the patient who feature in our cover story all agree. And now NHS England has put its weight behind the initiative, as you will have seen from the recent media coverage. We’re promised additional investment to recruit 22,000 primary care staff – including physiotherapists – working in GP practices in England.

It won’t happen overnight and no-one is expecting every GP practice to have a full time FCP immediately. There is time to develop and roll out FCPs, time to take the necessary steps to ensure adequate supply, and time to develop and expand our workforce. We know there’s appetite and capacity for all of this. 

Yes we need more GPs and, contrary to what the Daily Mail may believe, we’re not suggesting that physios replace GPs. This is about collaboration, best use of resources, and a focus on what’s best for patients. MSK physios make a specialist contribution. They’re more expert on muscle, bone and joint issues than the average GP so they are usually the more appropriate clinician to see for MSK issues.

We’re already seeing MSK FCPs rolling out across Scotland. Northern Ireland is piloting FCPs and Welsh services have been developing FCPs for some time. We know from pilots FCP is safe, effective, patients like it, it reduces unneeded scans and referrals and saves money. 

It is better for patients, better for GPs and better for physios. Win win win.

  • Rob Yeldham, CSP Director of Strategy, Policy & Engagement

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