Let physios provide fit notes and reduce strain on GPs, says CSP

The CSP is highlighting how physiotherapists can reduce unnecessary GP appointments, following calls by doctors to allow employees to self-certify sickness for up to two weeks.

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Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GP committee

The proposal was made yesterday at a British Medical Association (BMA) conference in Belfast, which runs from 19-24 June.

Speaking at the conference Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA GP committee, said that enabling people to take up to 14 days sickness leave without a doctor’s note could help to reduce the growing burden on GPs. The current limit is five days.

Meanwhile Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the committee, said ‘the pressures on general practice have sunk to new depths.’

He told delegates: ‘Demand escalates relentlessly, with a growing, ageing population with expanding, multiple, complex needs. Meanwhile, the explicit wholesale transfer of care out of hospital continues unabated.’

Use physios to reduce absenteeism

Jenny Nissler, CSP professional adviser, questioned the need to extend self-certified sick leave to 14 days:‘Providing fit notes adds to GPs’ workloads,’ she said. ‘Other professionals, such as physiotherapists, have the skills and knowledge to be able do this.

‘Trained to identify possible serious pathology in the same way as doctors, physiotherapists are physical activity specialists. They can support people in returning to work sustainably, or to avoid an absence in the first place – which is good for people, employers and the economy.

‘By rolling out direct access to physiotherapy, for example in GP surgeries, and potentially optimising the use of fit notes, it is possible to keep people fit for work and ease the strain on general practice.’

Increase direct access to physiotherapy

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton reiterated the society’s view:‘Our modelling shows that providing direct access in practices would free up GPs to spend an extra five minutes with their patients, as well as saving the average practice £1,000 a week.

'Patients with a musculoskeletal condition can account for up to 30 per cent of caseloads so it's no surprise that GPs are increasingly bringing in physios to work alongside them as a first point of contact.’

She added that many patients were missing out on the faster access to treatment that direct access to physiotherapy provided, and urged decision-makers across the UK to include physiotherapists in GP practices.

 

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