First Contact Physiotherapist (FCP) can be the first point of contact for people with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions in primary care and also support the ‘fit to work’ agenda. The in-house cluster physiotherapy role is designed to increase clinical capacity within the team and also act as a gatekeeper for secondary care MSK referrals. Therapists can lead successful MSK services within primary care, with their ability to refer patients directly for x-ray, undertake injections and prescribe. 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 are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and they carry their own professional liability indemnity (PLI).
Benefits of the service include managing cases early, preventing deterioration and reducing waiting times for patients. Pacesetter evaluation shows that physiotherapists can significantly reduce the GP caseload and secondary care referrals by triage, gate keeping and managing MSK patients. This impact on the workload of specialist MSK services demonstrates the benefits of a resource shift to fund future primary care physiotherapy roles.