New FCP masters programme in Scotland

Robert Gordon University (RGU) is the first university in Scotland to offer an educational programme aimed at those physiotherapists in a first contact practitioner role. 

A first contact physiotherapist consults with a patient

The new course, which will launch in November, will enable physiotherapists to develop an understanding of the key competencies relating to the first contact physiotherapist role including leadership, management, current policy and the evidence base supporting the delivery of advanced clinical practice.

First contact physio roles have been supporting GP services since the 2018 general medical services contract in Scotland, outlined a three year plan for a transformative redesign of primary care.

A multidisciplinary approach to services enables roles historically carried out by GPs to be carried out by members of a wider primary care multi-disciplinary team.

As a direct result, there are now over 200 advanced musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapists in Scotland working in primary care in Scotland as the first point of contact.

However, while the Scottish Government has outlined a commitment to maximising the contribution of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) workforce and pushing the traditional boundaries of professional roles, progress for AHPs in this area has been slower and has not seen the same level of investment in educational frameworks and funded masters places.

RGU’s course will be delivered online, utilising a mix of workshops and tutorials. It will be delivered over six weeks with six further weeks to prepare the assessment required for completion. The course will give 30 credits at SCQF level 11.

RGU physiotherapy course leader Victoria Park said: 'This course marks the start of educational support for physios entering FCP roles which are in high demand across Scotland. We hope to develop into a two years master’s programme like that available to advanced practice nurses.

We hope opportunities will be levelled up to match those open to nurses and AHPs elsewhere in the UK.

Sara Conroy, CSP professional adviser for Scotland, said: 'This is a timely and welcome development. Scotland needs investment in education for FCP roles to be sustainable.

'By taking pressure off GPs we have put a huge pressure on our profession and our workforce. Primary care in Scotland needs AHP educational opportunities for new primary care roles, in keeping with medics, nurses in Scotland and the opportunities already available to physios in England.' 

Kenryck Lloyd Jones, CSP  Scotland public affairs and policy manager, added: 'The transformational agenda is crucial to the future of primary care in Scotland. As we develop the resources to shape the workforce we now need a workforce plan to meet demand and deliver on the ambitions for primary care.'

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