Physios first

Physios are in the vanguard of a bold new initiative that could revive primary care, writes Sarah Withers.

The struggle to get a GP appointment is one of the more visible pinch points for patients as the NHS continues to battle the challenges of underfunding and heavy demand. That may be one reason why the model of physiotherapists working alongside GPs in seeing patients with an MSK problem is an idea whose time has come.

This approach is increasingly important for under-pressure GPs, commissioners and patients, who can benefit from faster access to specialist assessment, diagnosis and advice.

It’s also clear that the first contact physio role will be integral to the future of the profession, taking our skills and expertise to the frontline instead of post-referral.

Being the first point of contact supports patient care; it makes our services more effective and efficient for them, as well as the funding bodies.

It’s not just about MSK, either – there is huge potential for using this model for frailty, respiratory conditions and other areas.

It was with this vision in mind that my role was created. 

I will facilitate the implementation of FCP (first contact physiotherapist) roles across the UK, providing national perspectives, guidance and networking opportunities for progress to be made locally.

It’s certainly an exciting time to join this programme of work and, as a CSP member, I’ve been delighted to learn more about the influence my professional body is having with decision-makers.

My new colleagues have been working closely with NHS England for months on the rollout of FCP services, with a big announcement due imminently, hopefully.

Significant advances have been made in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland thanks to CSP members and staff in those countries I intend to build on that work and hope you will join me in creating this change for the NHS and our patients. To keep up-to-date with FCP developments, join our Primary Care Transformation Network by emailing

  • Sarah Withers is the CSP’s head of programme:  First Contact Physiotherapy Implementation

Number of subscribers: 1

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added