NHS First Contact Practitioner Physiotherapy

FCP’s are physiotherapists working as part of the GP practice team and they provide a physiotherapy triage or MSK screening service. The vast majority of FCP’s are physiotherapists with enhanced skills.

Introduction

The White House Clinic has supported NHS Musculoskeletal (MSK) services for more than 20 years by being funded by CCGs. We have delivered a wide range of services from on-site GP physiotherapy clinics, to Extended Scope Practitioner (ESP) orthopaedic triage services.  

More recently, the White House Clinic has offered NHS First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP) services. These services are primarily with Primary Care Networks (PCN’s), and our current contracts in place are long-term contracts. GP’s are able to access funding through their PCN for FCP services by utilising the DES fund (1 x FCP per 50K of population). 

What are First Contact Practitioners, and what do they do? 

FCP’s are physiotherapists working as part of the GP practice team and they provide a physiotherapy triage or MSK screening service. The vast majority of FCP’s are physiotherapists with enhanced skills. 

FCP’s work alongside GP’s and they are able to help to assess, diagnose and provide early intervention and advice for patients with MSK complaints. They are also able to refer patients onto specialist services at the earliest opportunity if this is required. FCP’s therefore effectively take the load off GP’s, allowing GP’s more time to focus on other core areas within general practice. 

Our FCP’s work collaboratively with their GP’s at all times to ensure an integrated service. This ensures that GP’s do not lose sight of the cohort of MSK cases or deskill them in any way. Our FCP service allows GP staff to see and refer directly into the physiotherapist’s diary, as well as tasking and communicating with the physio directly. The FCP therefore becomes the GP’s MSK practitioner, and GP’s have the opportunity to develop their own internal MSK pathway.

How do First Contact Practitioner services help Patients?

Having a First Contact Practitioner within GP premises means that patients with MSK pain, including conditions such as back pain and arthritis, are able to contact and access their local physiotherapist directly and rapidly, rather than waiting to see a GP or being referred to hospital or community physiotherapy services. 

This early access to physiotherapy, alongside rapid intervention, advice and treatment (where necessary) has been proven to reduce sickness absence, accelerate recovery and improve the long-term health and well-being prospects of patients with MSK complaints (Addley et al., 2010; Boorman, 2009; NHS Employers, 2012).

How do First Contact Practitioner services help GP’s?

First Contact Practitioners can help GP’s to manage their workload more effectively by freeing up appointment slots. They can also reduce and lower the number of unnecessary investigations and prescriptions, and also reduce the number of patients being referred onward to other services. 

Our FCP services have been proven to help GP’s by:

  • Providing rapid access to physiotherapy assessment and intervention
  • Reducing referrals to GP’s themselves
  • Avoiding unnecessary waiting lists
  • Reducing repeated prescriptions
  • Avoiding unnecessary referrals to secondary care
  • Maximising the efficiency of investigations
  • Managing and co-ordinating MSK healthcare in-house, with on-site MSK specialist practitioners

First Contact Practitioner services are reported to deliver a return on investment of £0.81-£2.37 for every £1 spent on implementing First Contact Practitioner services (Davies C, 2017); with some studies suggesting a higher return (Public Health England, 2017).

How do the White House Clinic’s FCP services differ to others?

At the White House Clinic, we believe we are different and have developed an advanced package of services offering GP’s the opportunity to enhance the services they could provide to their patients. We offer the premier package of FCP services that incorporate three core elements at no extra cost to the PCN. 

These are:

  • Digital Clinical Support Platform (in partnership from ZOOMPhysio)- providing injury orientated guidance and self-management within 24 hours of referral
  • Virtual Physio – primarily video consultation but telephone if video is not accessible
  • Face-to-Face (F2F) FCP service on-site and within GP surgeries.

Our preference is to provide each PCN with a totally new service that brings in advanced technology, and one that will make a difference in terms of patient access and outcomes, whilst maximising the use of each FCP in their role with each GP surgery. Patients get access to a physiotherapy service that delivers within 24 hours of engagement, avoiding excessive waiting times which can be both costly and detrimental to patient health and well-being.

Benefits of the White House Clinic’s FCP services

ACCOUNTABILITY
We track and monitor all of our data and outcomes accurately, meaning we are able to provide feedback of our service level success to GP’s and PCN’s. We provide monthly activity data and a cost analysis so it’s clear to see (possibly for the first time ever) exactly what money is being spent on. 

FLEXIBILITY
Our core elements are fitting for the current climate surrounding COVID-19 and allow patients to continue to have access to services whether that be in person or virtually.

TRANSPARENCY
Our FCP services can be easily flexed and adjusted to suit from each of the above core elements, alongside providing all the necessary staffing levels - this guarantee that our service offerings always remain within each PCN/GP budget and is specific for each PCN requirement. 

FAIR
We know each GP practice within a PCN works differently and we mould our services to fit each requirement, ensuring each practice gets a fair share of the DES fund allowance for the FCP service.

ADVANCED CLINICAL PRACTICE
We have an array of very qualified staff including ESP’s and APP’s that deliver our FCP services. Our staff are therefore in a position to help each PCN/GP develop services and improve on the current FCP concept. These additional services might include on-site injection clinics, a scanning service (USS) or more specialist access to integrated healthcare with orthopaedic groups.

If you need or want any further details about our FCP services, then please contact us.

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