First Contact Physiotherapy career development in Wales

While there isn't a specific First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP) framework for Wales, the Health Education England roadmap and other documents can help you to develop your career in primary care.

FCP in Wales

FCP implementation

The Welsh government has not developed a specific First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP) framework, but there is a general consensus regarding the usefulness of the Health Education England (HEE) roadmap. 

The Allied Health Professions Framework and Modernising Allied Health Professions’ Careers in Wales document are also worth becoming familiar with if you are working as an FCP.

In Wales, FCP implementation has accelerated and decelerated over the years. In part, this is due to changes in funding options. Some services were initially able to make use of Pathfinder and Pacesetter funding, while other services were funded by money from GP clusters or health boards. In all situations, services across Wales report that funding has been inconsistent, and although it is stable in many areas, this situation has not led to the expected growth of FCP services.

There is strong support within Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) for training a wider range of health professionals in primary care and investing in the primary care workforce. You can view case studies for this work on the HEIW website.

There is also a strong emphasis in the action plan A Healthier Wales for new models of care and transformation within primary care. The Modernising Allied Health Professions’ Careers in Wales document sets the ambitions and expectations of AHPs for the future and recognises the role that AHPs have to play in service redesign, delivery, strategic planning and leadership. These documents point to growing support for increasing the workforce in Primary Care.

Workforce models

Across Wales, there are a significant number of FCPs currently working in primary care. These clinicians are primarily employed by the health boards. However, there are also FCPs employed directly by GP surgeries or GP clusters, and some are private practitioners.

FCPs employed by a health board often have a mixed job plan where they work part-time in primary care as an FCP and part-time in another musculoskeletal (MSK) service such as core physiotherapy or Clinical Musculoskeletal and Treatment Service (CMATS)  – MSK/orthopaedic triage services. This model allows for shared training, supervision and governance structures as these often overlap with the needs and structures of other MSK services.

Prior to the pandemic, the All Wales FCP Group agreed a job description that aligned all FCP roles in Wales as band 7. Since this alignment, some roles have been elevated to band 8 in certain areas to reflect levels of clinical leadership and responsibility. The All Wales GCP Group also set up a data standardisation workstream which was tasked with developing a business case for FCP that could be replicated across Wales. However, this work has been paused due to the pandemic.

Education and training

At the time of writing, Cardiff University is developing FCP modules as part of their Advanced Practice MSc, these should be available by September 2021. There are also a number of advanced clinical practitioner MSc programmes or other courses and modules, such as a non-medical prescribing modules, which may appeal to FCPs to meet their educational needs.

Check the postgraduate sections of the universities' websites for further details:

If you are an aspiring FCP in the Wales, you may wish to align yourself with the Health Education England roadmap as this provides a clear framework for career development towards FCP and advanced practice in primary care, and includes details of a number of e-learning courses that are relevant for all FCPs. The MSK in primary care e-learning modules can be found here and the personalised care modules can be found on the Personalised Care Institute website. The modules recommended by the roadmap through the Personalised Care Institute are personalised care planning, social prescribing, Making Every Contact Count and patient-centred care. 

Find the latest version of the roadmap on the HEE website.

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