First contact physiotherapy leads to encouraging outcomes in England

Early results from a national evaluation assessing the effectiveness of first contact physiotherapy (FCP) show ‘overwhelmingly positive’ patient experiences.

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A patient receives treatment from a first contact physiotherapist in Farnham, Surrey

Evaluation of the FCP services, which is being carried out over a two-year period across England, also shows that patient outcomes are improved, with a significant reduction in referralsto orthopaedics, and fewer blood tests and drug prescriptions.

The CSP is working on the evaluation with NHS England's Elective Care Transformation Programme, the South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit, and the Joint Work and Health Unit.

The collaborative trial aims to determine whether providing access to physiotherapists within general practice improves the experience of patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, and if it helps reduce the pressure on GPs’ workload, and streamline care pathways.

Almost all of the CCG and STP leads taking part in the evaluation, who shared their views via a questionnaire earlier this year, said that they had had very positive engagement with GPs and clinical colleagues on FCP mobilisation.

Ruth ten Hove, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said, ‘These interim results are very encouraging and echo findings on pilots in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

'As the evaluation report says, we are seeing evidence that FCP means that many MSK patients are now receiving the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

‘There is clear evidence for a wider implementation, and the CSP will continue to work with partners to further improve outcomes for patients and fellow clinicians.’

For the latest information and discussion about First Contact Physiotherapy, please join the iCSP forum.

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