A new report examining the roll-out of a scheme to integrate a wider range of professions including physiotherapists into primary care networks has been published.
It found that while the policy is sensible the new roles are not being implemented effectively.
The report authors make a series of recommendations, including a focus on future sustainability, including funding, estates strategy and career progression.
CSP research consistently shows the huge potential first contact physiotherapists have for transforming primary care, by speeding up access to expert advice and keeping patients out of hospital, freeing up GP time and saving money.
CSP assistant director Gill Rawlinson said: ‘However this report highlights there is a real risk that this potential is not going to be fully realised unless these roles are better supported and integrated into the system. Currently there are issues with primary care networks (PCNs) not having a full understanding of what these roles can offer and how they are embedded into primary care.’
There is a need for greater, streamlined information from NHS England for PCNs on what exactly Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) staff can deliver and how they should be supported to do so.
‘But primary care is just one part of the picture and it’s essential that we look across the pathway to ensure there is appropriate staffing to make each part work,’ said Dr Rawlinson.
‘Much of this recruitment is driven by targets set for primary care staffing. We obviously want to meet that target but without a similar one for community services, the temptation will be to move staff from one place to the other without any backfill.’
Many CSP members are already reporting this problem and patient care will inevitably suffer.
‘This all points towards the need for NHS England to boost its capacity quickly and invest in creating more physiotherapy roles. Currently a lack of workforce planning and inflexible recruitment processes is jeopardising this. We believe that one such solution would be to offer physio graduates in England a guaranteed contract as it would attract more talented people into the system, at a critical time,’ said Dr Rawlinson.
‘However, capitalising on the growth of registered physiotherapists will need to go hand in hand with improving pay and looking for other ways to retain staff, particularly at a time when more health workers than ever before are choosing to leave the NHS after an exceptionally stressful period of time.’
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