A national evaluation into the First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP) role in England showcases the strength of the model, the CSP says.
The third and final stage of the evaluation, conducted by teams at Keele and Nottingham universities, included quantitative data on patient outcomes along with qualitative research based on interviews with patients, GPs, practice staff and FCPs.
It demonstrated the positive benefits of the role for patient care and expanding the skills and expertise on offer in primary care.
It also found very high levels of patient satisfaction while making a series of recommendations for successful implementation of the role.
Earlier phases of the evaluation highlighted the benefits to GP caseloads of FCPs seeing MSK patients.
Larry Koyama, head of FCP implementation at the CSP, said:
This substantial evaluation demonstrates the huge benefits to patients and the system of the FCP role when it is part of an integrated MSK pathway.
‘The document provides crucial insight for people commissioning and designing services as well as for those already in post and adds to the significant body of evidence behind the model.’
Dr Siobhan Stynes, of Keele University, said: ‘The results of the national evaluation (phase 3) gives us new insightful data on the characteristics of patients who are accessing FCP services, their clinical outcomes over three months and shows that the FCP model is achieving key success criteria.’
Meanwhile, Dr Rob Goodwin, of Nottingham University, said: ‘The interview data supports the clinical outcome evaluation in showing that FCP services are well received by patients, GPs and physiotherapists alike.
Several lessons can be taken from this evaluation to support the national implementation strategy for FCP.
Supporting FCP implemtation across the UK
To coincide with the publication, NHSE/I, Health Education England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy are holding a webinar today (September 30) to discuss the findings and explore the recommendations made by researchers.
In the coming weeks, the CSP will explore how the evaluation can be used to support FCP implementation across the UK.
Although Covid-19 restrictions prevented the planned expansion of the qualitative phase beyond England, there are important learnings for FCPs working in different systems and there are further plans to share learning from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The evaluation can be read here.
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