Patients in South Notts already benefiting from specialist physio care from their GP surgery now have the most advanced care in England
In March 2022, England’s first cohort of clinicians completed the Government’s new course for first contact practitioners in primary care from the University of Hertfordshire.
With one in four working adults reporting musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain, GPs have recruited First Contact Physios who offer expert care quickly and close to home.
Hundreds of thousands of patients across South Nottinghamshire can now see advanced physios who assess soft tissue, muscle and joint pain and propose the most appropriate care. The new accreditation offers assurance for patients of the skill, safety and expertise of the clinicians in their new role.
The impact of the new roles on improving patient care and reducing waiting times is immense. Musculoskeletal (MSK) problems account for approximately 30% of the overall GP caseload. The new service reduces pressure on GP workload by approximately 10 per cent.
Despite the pandemic, GPs in South Nottinghamshire worked tirelessly with Primary Integrated Community Services (a local healthcare provider) to accelerate a scheme from NHS England that funds specialist roles who work in community GP surgeries.
First contact practitioners see patients straight away, without waiting for a referral from a GP or an appointment at a hospital. If needed, they enable patients who need to be seen by a hospital consultant to go as quickly as possible. Other roles being rolled out are community Paramedics, Clinical Pharmacists and Dieticians. It’s all part of the NHS Long Term Plan to ensure patients are seen by the right person at the right time.
Health Education England (a Government body that oversees the development of the healthcare workforce) developed the ‘roadmap to practice in primary care’ programme that enables these specialists to join GP surgeries by accrediting their qualifications, supervision, experience and training and providing assurance of safety for patients.
Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) employ 13 FCPs across South Nottinghamshire and have carried out over 6,500 appointments that would otherwise have fallen to a GP. Given the success of the programme, GPs plan to expand further and employ 5 by March 2024.
The First Contact Physio team at PICS have worked with GPs and the University of Hertfordshire and HEE to develop the programme. They have produced and tested templates and materials for other practitioners across England to help provide equally quality care for patients, no matter where they live.
Charlie Akiens was the first First Contact Physio in Nottinghamshire to be recruited to this new type of role when she was employed by PICS on 5 April 2020 to work across Byron PCN in Hucknall. You can read more about Charlie here. She now joint-clinical lead for one of the busiest FCP teams within primary care in the country. She says: “I am pleased and proud to be part of a pioneering team as we’ve developed the FCP service, driving forward the health and well-being of our population at a local level through primary care.