Developing an FCP peer network

This page has been created to help first contact physiotherapy (FCP) members feel confident when developing useful and sustainable peer networks.

Working with others to tackle a common problem creates a platform for learning and mutual accountability. It can can also generate energy and excitement.

Well-designed improvement networks provide an inbuilt mechanism to spread successful change. It reduces isolation and helps you take advantage of social and professional connections.

Being part of the FCP peer network has been really beneficial to me starting my new role as a First Contact Physiotherapist.

Kate Moores, Rosebank Health

Advice for setting up and initiating a new network

  • Who will join the network? Think about who you wish to network with. Networks could be organised around local areas, specific interests, or topics (see below).
  • Link up with your local primary care network (PCN) training hub: contact them and let them know your networking plans; they may well be able to facilitate your network with administrative support etc.
  • Opportunities to access funding: contact your PCN or primary care training hub, as they maybe able to provide funding to cover time that the chair/vice chair is spends planning and hosting meetings etc.
  • Reaching peers: you may already have some thoughts about who could join your network, but your local CSP campaigns and regional engagement (CRE) Officer (email: cre@csp.org.uk) can also help you to reach local members by promoting your network via the CSP's communications channels. The CRE officer may have also previously hosted an FCP event in the locality and so may have a list of local active FCPs.

Testimonial: Kate Moores, Rosebank Health

Being the only the physiotherapist within the PCN, and starting the role at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic it has been invaluable to be able to connect with other colleagues in the same position across the region.

Kate Moores, first contact physiotherapist for Rosebank Health
Kate Moores

Through regular meetings we have been able to learn from each other. Through discussions about case studies and clinical guidance I have become more confident in my ability as a FCP. The advice and support from the group extends beyond clinical, with a focus on clinical governance, service development and sharing best practice across the region. 

Being involved with the peer network has been such a worthwhile experience for me, being able to connect with a group of colleagues who all understand the challenges that come with being a FCP has been so helpful.

I’m really excited for how our peer network will develop over the coming months to continue to support its members with the development of their FCP roadmap portfolios, enable us to work collaboratively with quality improvement projects and audit across the region and to continue to develop not only ourselves but the service we provide. 

Being a part of the peer network has definitely made my transition into working as a first contact physiotherapist easier and far less lonely!

Considerations for maintaining a successful peer network:

  • What’s the purpose of your network? Ask members what they want to get out of the network. This can help develop the purpose of the network, while also defining priorities and an agenda for future meetings (consider using poll software, survey monkey). The direction of the network may evolve over time and will differ depending on the individuals who make up the group (i.e. PCN employed FCPs or ACPs within primary care).
  • Who will chair/manage the meetings? Ensure that this responsibility sits with more than one person. In some networks the responsibility of both chair and minute-taker rotates.
  • Choosing the best meeting date/time: Ask your peers what dates/times are most convenient for them, so you can pick the most popular option(s) for best attendance.
  • Communication frequencies: Decide how regularly will you meet and how will you communicate in between meetings (consider your capacity and need for regular interaction).
  • Promoting meetings: The CRE team can help to promote initial meetings using the CSP’s communication channels, and you can collate their contact information and RSVPs using tools like Eventbrite, so that you can maintain communications to form stronger relationships overtime.
  • Create a terms of reference and meeting agenda: Both these documents will help to ensure that the network operates effectively, ensuring consistency and mutual understanding between all members (see below for examples of a terms of reference and agenda for FCP peer networks).
  • How big/small do you want your network to be? Depending on the objective of the network and the amount of two-way communication required, it may be beneficial to have fewer people as it can sometimes allow better conversations and build closer working relationships. If the network grows too big you may find that it’s useful to split the groups by specialisms or smaller localities.
  • Do you need smaller sub-groups within your network? It may be useful to have breakout or sub-groups that work on specific challenges/priorities (i.e. they may share a similar FCP model or may be developing similar skills such as injection therapy). They may wish to meet separately to focus on these specific themes. They could report on their progress to the wider group.
  • Utilise GP trainers to provide CPD to the network members: These funded positions support GP trainees, however they may well have capacity to provide training to the wider MDT including FCP.
  • Consider GDPR: Be aware of GDPR when collecting and sharing member data; consider using third party sign up forms (i.e. Eventbrite or Survey Monkey) and make all parties aware of how their information will be used (see table B).

Network types and sizes


Large regional network meetings

Suitable for:

  • Initial set up of a network (you can invite all FCPs from the region initially)
  • In service training
  • Delivering information
  • Feedback on pieces of work undertaken by smaller networks

Local groups (city/town)

Suitable for:

  • When dividing the regional networks into smaller groups
  • Individuals who work for the same employer or in a similar employment model (PCN employed or private self-employed)
  • Those who sit under the same CCG or ICS area may have similar challenges and successes.
  • Tackling local challenges such as access to radiology or pathway discussions

Focused groups

Suitable for:

  • Attendees who share a similar skill or practice (i.e. injection therapy or prescribing).
  • Topics identified as a learning need for attendees (i.e. governance, personalised care, shared decision making or motivational interviewing).
  • Aspects of non-clinical practice such as research, data collection or audit.

Small groups

Suitable for:

  • Discussing patient case studies and specific clinical scenarios
  • Gaining quick and detailed information/feedback
  • Building close working relationships

Communication tools


Virtual meetings

  • Zoom: Free video/conference calls for up to 30 people for 45 minutes, can be organised by anyone. Can have breakout rooms and use polls etc.
  • MS Teams: Those with MS 365 can arrange video/conference calls and invite anyone to attend. It’s also useful for sharing resources and messaging via a channel or group.

You can also ask specific questions about their preferences for the network.


Promoting events

Eventbrite is a free tool for promoting and managing delegates at events. Network members can sign up to attend meetings, and it will collect data for future correspondence and meeting invitations.


Gaining insight

  • Survey Monkey: create and share detailed surveys, which you can use to understand the requirements and preferences of your network, and tailor the meetings, agenda and objectives to them.
  • Doodle polls: useful to gain feedback quickly as it’s easy for participants to complete (i.e. yes/no answers) on a specific topic (i.e. to find peoples availability for meeting dates/times).
  • Mentimeter: ideal for live polls, quizzes, word clouds, Q&As, helping with meeting/event engagement and quick responses from the group.

Communicating outside meetings and sharing information

  • Email: useful when communicating detailed information to the whole network, as they can be cc’d on the conversation. You may wish to share some formal information which they are required to read and/or respond to.
  • WhatsApp: ideal for informal communications that require a quick and less detailed/formal responses.
  • MS teams channels: these are dedicated sections within MS Teams to keep conversations organised by specific topics, projects, disciplines etc. You could create a channel specifically for the network. Files that you share in a channel are stored in SharePoint.
  • Source4Networks: A free site where you can connect to other health and social care networks in a learning community. It can act as a collaboration space for your network where you can upload and share documents, ask Q&As and host conversations, etc.

Examples of agenda topics within an FCP peer network agenda

  • Roundtable general check-in: How’s everyone doing? Any specific area or PCN updates?
  • FCP roadmap: supervision provision
  • What do you need to help translate the roadmap into practical tasks/how to adhere to it?
  • Clinical case studies
  • Update about e-consult
  • Update about injecting
  • Update about prescribing
  • Students in primary care
  • Plan for next session

Examples of terms of reference headings

  • Title: i.e. Terms of reference for [name of network] and [date]
  • Purpose(s) / role(s) of the group
  • Membership: who is this group for, how many members, what is the group’s focus?
  • Accountability: who chairs the group, and who takes minutes and monitors actions etc?
  • Review: how and when is the group’s direction and ToR reviewed (i.e. every 4 months)
  • Working methods / ways of working: define communications tools/methods for different purposes and their frequency of use

 

Last reviewed: