Funding for first contact physiotherapists, and other additional roles in primary care, is set to increase by up to £300 million in England this year.
The extra money has been agreed in an updated GP contract, which will see funding rise from the 2020/21 figure of £430 million to a maximum of £746 million during 2021/22.
The updated GP contract outlines changes to the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), which allows primary care networks (PCNs) to access funding to employ new staff.
Instead, from April this year, no limit will exist on the number of first contact physiotherapists that PCNs can recruit via ARRS funding.
Sue Hayward-Giles, CSP assistant director of practice and development, welcomed the change: ‘Lifting the cap on the numbers of first contact physiotherapists who can be funded by the ARRS is clearly great news and recognition of the value of their roles.
To maintain this value it is essential that FCP implementation goes ahead at a pace that allows the workforce to properly develop and enables preparatory work that successfully embeds FCP roles to take place
New funding to take account of London Weighting
Another significant change in the updated contract is an adjustment to how ARRS funding will be offered for NHS staff working in London.
Under the new contract, PCNs in London will be able to offer any staff employed via ARRS funding – including first contact physiotherapists – a salary that takes account of the extra costs associated with living in the capital, and will therefore include London Weighting.
As with the other changes, this move is due to come into effect from April this year.
‘In London, CSP members have raised the issue of London pay reimbursement ever since the ARRS was first introduced in 2019, and the CSP has previously raised this issue with the BMA,’ Ms Hayward-Giles added.
The decision to now incorporate London Weighting into the funding is an excellent development
Changes pave the way for other advanced practice physio roles
The updated GP contract will also see ARRS funding expanded to cover the employment of additional staff within primary care, including advanced practitioner roles, paramedics and mental health practitioners.
Rachel Newton, CSP head of policy, said: ‘To date the ARRS scheme has been relevant to physiotherapy as a funding mechanism for FCP roles. But the CSP has always been clear that there are other physiotherapy roles with a key role to play in primary care and that ARRS needs to be less restrictive.
The revised ARRS is a really important step forward in that it for the first time enables other Advanced Practice physiotherapist roles to be funded as additional roles
‘Furthermore, with mental health it introduces joint funding between PCNs and community services, which could offer a blue print for similar joint-funding of physiotherapy and community rehabilitation.’
NHS England, NHS Improvement and the BMA agreed the updated GP contract (which will remain valid between 2020/21 to 2023/24) earlier this month.
The changes to ARRS funding aim to give PCNs more flexibility and allow them to expand the capacity of additional roles within primary care, which will help to improve patient care and reduce the workload pressure on GPs.
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