Keele and Nottingham universities to assess the impact of physios as first contact practitioners in GP surgeries

The CSP Charitable Trust has commissioned Keele University’s primary care research unit to evaluate the impact of physiotherapists in first contact practitioner (FCP) roles on general practice musculoskeletal (MSK) services.

Ruth ten Hove said the evaluation is an opportunity to demonstrate the value of first contact practitioners

Over the next two years, Keele and Nottingham universities will collaborate to collect and evaluate data about FCPs, under a contract with the charitable trust.

Keele’s research, led by physiotherapist and senior research fellow Annette Bishop, will focus on the impact of FCPs on patients, by capturing patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) and experience measures (PREMs). Both sets of data will be collected via a bespoke online system.

Meanwhile, Nottingham researchers, led by physiotherapist and PhD student Rob Goodwin, will undertake focus groups and interviews with patients, clinicians and administrative staff. The aim will be to assess the impact of FCPs on general practice.

Ruth ten Hove, head of research and development at the CSP, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted that Keele and Nottingham have been able to create such a strong partnership. It combines the strengths of both research teams.

‘This evaluation is our opportunity to demonstrate the value and impact of first contact practitioners. It will also enable us to build a robust evidence-base to inform a full-scale roll out of these physiotherapy roles in general practice.’

The universities’ joint evaluation is the third phase of a wider evaluation of FCPs in primary care MSK services, commissioned by NHS England.

The first phase started in August. It aims to look at how England’s 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships are implementing FCPs.

The second phase, run by the South Central and South West Commissioning Support Unit, will aim to examine to how successful this implementation has been.

Dr Bishop said: ‘This will be about drawing together all of the elements of the evaluation, to come up with an agreed set of recommendations on the successful implementation of the FCP service, that can be widely disseminated and used by the MSK community.’

FCPs that are part of the national pilot can expect to be contacted by Keele researchers.

The universities are scheduled to report their findings in March 2019.

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