Physios can help give GPs five extra minutes with patients, says CSP

GPs could spend on average five extra minutes with patients if they made physiotherapy available at their surgery, according to new figures from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

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Giving patients with musculoskeletal conditions the option of seeing physiotherapists first could add on average five minutes to appointments

The Physiotherapy Cost Calculator developed by the CSP shows the additional time that could be freed up if patients with back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions, who would normally visit their GP as the first port of call, are offered the option of seeing a physiotherapist instead.

Physiotherapists are already working in a number of GP surgeries across the country. In West Cheshire physiotherapists are available as the first point of contact for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

During a three month pilot over 700 patients accessed the service who would otherwise have seen a GP.

As a result of funding from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, the service was expanded to cover all 36 GP practices in West Cheshire.

A recent survey by the British Medical Association found that only 8 per cent of GPs think a 10 minute consultation is sufficient for routine appointments.

When asked what factors could help them improve their service, 70% cited longer consultation times.

Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said:

‘Both GPs and patients are concerned about the inadequate length of appointments. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

‘Expanding the number of physiotherapists working in GP surgeries - and giving patients with musculoskeletal conditions the option of seeing them first could add on average five minutes to appointments.

‘More GPs are choosing to invite physiotherapists to work alongside them in surgeries up and down the country to save time and money – places like West Cheshire, where direct access to physiotherapy is being expanded, are leading the way.”

‘Our ambition is for this to be the norm rather than the exception.’

Putting physiotherapists in surgeries also delivers significant savings to the NHS, according to the modelling.

A typical GP practice would provide 249 appointments a week for musculoskeletal conditions. It costs £6.346.40 per week for the GP to see those patients, whereas it would only cost £3800.47 for a physiotherapist to see them.

Tracey Loftis, Head of Policy & Public Affairs for Arthritis Research UK said:

‘There are 10 million people living with the pain and disability of arthritis in the UK, and 30 million working days lost are due to sickness absence caused by a musculoskeletal condition.

‘Physiotherapy plays an important role for people with a musculoskeletal condition: it can help restore movement and function.

‘We welcome ways of working such as this, which enhances access to physiotherapy and frees up capacity in primary care.’

The Physiotherapy Cost Calculator – accompanied by an introductory video – can be found on the CSP website at www.csp.org.uk/costcalculator

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Note to editors

For further information please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111, email pressoffice@csp.org.uk. Out of hours please call Jon Ryan, head of press and PR on 07917 091200, Ben Wealthy, senior media adviser, on 07771 765172, or John Millington, PR and social media officer, 07766 994141.

  1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have more than 54,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.

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by Kiran Acharya (non-member)

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