Physiotherapists are qualified autonomous clinical practitioners who can assess, diagnose, treat and manage musculoskeletal (MSK) problems and undifferentiated conditions and – where appropriate – discharge a person without a medical referral. Physiotherapists working in this role can be accessed directly by self-referral or by staff in GP practices who can direct patients to them to establish a rapid and accurate diagnosis and management plan to streamline pathways of care.
Physiotherapists providing a first point of contact service means that patients presenting with a musculoskeletal problem for a GP appointment are offered an appointment with a physiotherapist instead. Physiotherapists working in general practice are able to address the needs of a large proportion of the patient population. They have the clinical expertise and autonomy to assess, diagnose and treat patients with a range of conditions, including MSK, neurological and respiratory conditions.
Physiotherapists can help patients with musculoskeletal issues such as back, neck and joint pain; assessing and diagnosing issues, giving expert advice on how best to manage their conditions, and referring them onto specialist services as and when necessary. It has been estimated that MSK conditions alone account for around one in five GP appointments.