Since June 2020, if you have contacted your GP at Malmesbury Primary Care Centre or the surrounding surgeries at Tolsey, Cricklade, Tinkers Lane, New Court and Purton you will have noticed a difference.
For over 1000 patients with a wide range of acute and chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) presentations such as spinal pain or shoulder pain have been expertly assessed, diagnosed and treated, not by their GP but by a team of First Contact Physiotherapists (FCPs). First Contact Physiotherapists are highly skilled and experienced NHS Chartered Physiotherapists. They can complete a thorough physical assessment, prescribe exercise, suggest lifestyle changes and access medical investigations such as x-ray or MRI scans, or refer to other specialities such as orthopaedics or rheumatology, if deemed necessary. This initial contact directly with a physiotherapist has helped to lessen the strain on GP practices and offered quick access and high quality care to patients
Patients have benefitted shorter waiting times, less appointments to access expert care and begin recovery. Much faster than the traditional route of booking a GP appointment and then being referred to the physiotherapy service which may result in a significant wait to be seen.
One of the FCP team members John Cooper said:
“by contacting your GP surgery and speaking to a FCP, in most cases on the same day an acute problem can be assessed and treatment can begin immediately. This reduces the chance for the problem to become chronic. However even patients with long term conditions, a clear diagnosis in conjunction with prescribed exercise and lifestyle strategies can make such a positive difference.”
Early research across the surgeries has shown a positive patient experience and high levels of satisfaction with the FCP service. Treatment outcomes have also been impressive 75% of patients assessed over the telephone or in a face to face consultation by a First Contact Physiotherapist are able to self- manage their symptoms without the need for GP involvement or referral onward to other services.