BMA Northern Ireland issues crisis call for self-referral to physio

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland is calling for the urgent expansion of direct access to physiotherapy to address the crisis in general practice.


CSP’s Tom Sullivan: GPs want to see better access to physiotherapy to take the pressure off surgeries

In a report published on 7 June it also says there is an immediate need to fund expanded and comprehensive primary care teams, which would include physiotherapists, to reduce and relieve GPs’ workload.

‘General practice in Northern Ireland is in trouble,’ says the document. ‘Unless action is taken and funding is made available there is a real risk of practices closing, GPs retiring and thousands of patients here facing the very real prospect of not having a GP to call on when they need help.’

In addition, the BMA’s GPs’ committee in Northern Ireland wants urgent action to support practices at risk of closure and measures to reduce workloads.

The report says these measures are needed, not only to rescue general practice, but to ensure patients have a responsive, safe and sustainable general practice service.

Tom Sullivan, the CSP’s Northern Ireland public affairs and policy manager, commented: ‘I think this report very much supports and endorses the need for self-referral.

‘It is absolutely explicit that GPs want to see better access to physiotherapy as a means of taking pressure off them.’

Northern Ireland’s first physiotherapy self-referral pilot went live 12 months ago in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

The CSP understands that analysis of the pilot will inform a report about how the model could be implemented across the country.

The Public Health Agency is expected to write to all trusts to find out whether they are ready to implement self-referral to physio.

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