Workforce needs highlighted as primary care staffing targets met in England

A primary care staffing target being hit in England is welcome but can not be at the expense of workforce needs elsewhere in the system, the CSP has said.


First contact physios play a crucial role in primary care. Credit: Nathan Clarke

Data published by NHS England shows there are 29,103 additional primary care staff including physiotherapists working in GP practices.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, said: ‘It is fantastic to see more than 29,000 staff join our general practice workforce since 2019, a year ahead of the government target, following NHS recruitment campaigns with these new staff offering people expert care and advice at their local practice.

‘Thanks to these new GP teams record numbers of appointments are being delivered, with the latest figures showing that more than 31 million appointments took place in March 2023 – up almost a third compared to pre-pandemic.’   

Ash James, CSP director of practice and development, said: ‘First contact physiotherapists are playing a crucial role in primary care, seeing patients with musculoskeletal conditions such as back and neck pain without the need for a GP referral and helping to ease the NHS backlog.
‘They are a critical part of the expanded primary care team and it’s good that so many patients are now benefiting from them being available across much of the country. 

However, the roles are contributing to many outpatient services being short-staffed as physiotherapists are not being back-filled when they go into primary care.

‘It’s important that having met this target, the government now sets an equivalent for community services to ensure services are appropriately staffed wherever they are based, and patients can get the high quality rehab they need.'

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