Northern Ireland NHS conference hears how physios as first points of contact improve care

The value of physiotherapist as a first point of contact for patients was highlighted at the annual Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care annual conference and exhibition.


Clinical lead physio Roisin Lynch speaking at the event

More than 300 health and social care leaders attended the event in Belfast on 28 and 29 June to discuss key issues and consider the priorities for the future of health and social care.

Among the speakers was Roisin Lynch, a clinical lead physio who works in musculoskeletal outpatients departments across Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Sharing a stage with fellow allied health professionals (AHPs) Mrs Lynch presented examples of a musculoskeletal and stroke patient’s journey, outlining the input of AHPs at every stage – including the role played by first contact physiotherapists in emergency departments.

She told Frontline: ‘I spoke about the numbers of people who present to emergency departments with musculoskeletal problems, and how research is showing that physios are best placed to treat them, have outcomes equivalent to doctors – but with a lower direct cost – and that a skills mix approach is much better for sustainability.’

Delegates heard that Mrs Lynch’s trust was the first in Northern Ireland to implement a seven-day service with physios as a first point of contact, and she believed the same model would be ‘rolled out across all the trusts in time’.

‘Hearing from other AHPs was really worthwhile, and showcasing their roles in the patient journey was quiet powerful,’ said Mrs Lynch.

‘And it highlighted the cost savings that can be made if AHPs are considered, instead of just doctors or nurses.’

Author: Robert Millett

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