First contact practitioner physiotherapists (FCPs) are advanced
physiotherapists working within GP practices. FCPs have extensive
skills in the assessment, diagnosis and management of
musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions. Such as joint pain and stiffness,
osteoarthritis, sciatica and muscular pain.
It is estimated that musculoskeletal conditions account for
around one in five GP appointments. FCPs can support GPs with their
musculoskeletal caseload by seeing these patients instead of the
GP, ensuring that they are seen by the right person in the right
place at the right time. This will free up GP appointments for
those who need them.
FCPs are located within GP practices, and are part of the GP
practice team. FCPs are as accessible as GPs and do not have
Patients contacting their GP practice's reception with a new
musculoskeletal problem will be offered an appointment with the FCP
on the same or next day for a telephone consultation. Face to face
assessments may then be arranged if required.
A typical FCP appointment involves assessment, diagnosis and
first-line treatment. As a person-centred service, most
appointments include self-management advice, and discussions about
physical activity and fitness for work.
Unlike self-referral, FCP Physiotherapy is not early access to a
course of physiotherapy. Should the patient require further
treatment, then the FCP can make a referral to the physiotherapists
in the hospital who can provide in depth rehabilitation.
FCPs can order investigations if necessary or make referrals
into secondary care services such as orthopedics and rheumatology,
using the same pathways as GPs. Some FCPs can prescribe medication
and some can also inject.
As FCPs are speaking to patients early within their pathway,
most patients are able to be managed effectively with
self-management. By providing patients with expert musculoskeletal
assessment, advice and management from day one, this can prevent
persistent pain/ chronic conditions.
If the FCP assesses a patient and they feel that the patient's
symptoms are not caused by a musculoskeletal problem, they work
closely with the GP's and primary care clinicians to ensure that
the patient is booked in with an appropriate clinician, ensuring a
seamless journey of care for the patient.
Our FCPs can see patients registered with GP practices in the
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community