What MSK first contact physiotherapists can offer you

Our short briefing on the case for first contact physiotherapy (FCP), how to design your service and the benefits you can expect.

Improving MSK pathways to help integrate physiotherapists into GP practices and hospitals
  1. Diagnosis, advice and expert management of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions
  2. Increased capacity – seeing patients who would have seen the GP
  3. Referrals into 2° care – track record of fewer referrals
  4. Request investigations and interpret results – track record of fewer requests 
  5. Prescribing medicines and injecting – track record in de-prescribing
  6. Autonomous practitioners, trained to identify red flags – strong safety records
  7. High satisfaction rates among patients and GPs where first contact physiotherapists (FCPs) are in post
  8. Talk to patients about work and issue Fit Notes (from 1 July 2022)

How to implement FCPs

Getting the right coverage for your population

  • The current DES contract allocates 1 FCP within a population of 50K, but allows for more to meet local MSK population need*
  • FCP appointments require 20 mins to be effective
  • Getting the right numbers of FCPs in proportion to local population with sufficient time is critical to realising their value

*Commissioner may waive limits on numbers of FCPs if agreed with the PCN and relevant ICS. Source: 6.3.4 of GP contract

Taking a whole systems approach

  • FCPs should be an integrated part of an improved MSK pathway
  • A partnership with PCNs and local MSK Providers can ensure clinical governance for FCPs
  • If PCNs contract with MSK Providers they don’t have the additional pressures as an employer

FCPs are a critical component of an integrated MSK pathway across primary and community care that prioritises personalised care, supported self-management and population health

Andrew Bennett, National Clinical Director for MSK, NHS England  

In my view and experience FCPs are a valued and now essential member of the primary care team. The role is effective both in delivering great outcomes and experience for patients but also in our area resilience for practices. Their approach in my experience empowers patients to better self-manage their condition and become less reliant on traditional medical approaches such as analgesia.

Dr Darren Cocker, GP Lydden Surgery, Deputy Governing Body Member Kent and Medway CCG, GP Tutor HEE

Contact us

Contact the FCP team for practical support on FCP implementation contact  or visit our first contact physiotherapy section.

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