First Contact Practitioners

First Contact Practitioners are expert musculoskeletal (MSK) clinicians with a background in physiotherapy. We have introduced this role to reduce the workload on GPs and ensure your wait for an appointment is reduced.

Lower back and neck pain are the greatest cause of years lost to disability in the UK, with chronic joint pain or osteoarthritis affecting more than 8.75 million people. In addition, musculoskeletal conditions also account for 30% of all GP appointments. By 2024, all adults in England can see a musculoskeletal first contact physiotherapist at their local GP practice without being referred by a GP.

What does a First Contact Practioner do?

They have the same ability as GPs to refer patients for further investigations, local community physiotherapy and secondary care if required.

They will assess and diagnose patients. Care for the patient will then be continued as required and may include:

  • advice on a home exercise plan
  • steroid joint injections
  • requests for medication prescriptions
  • referral for further investigations (e.g., X-Ray, Blood tests)
  • referral to orthopaedics (e.g., MSK CATS)
  • referral for other services (e.g., social prescribers)
  • provision of self-referral link for Go2Physio.

The benefits

By making it easier for patients to access physiotherapists, patients will have quicker access to diagnosis and treatment. This will help them manage their conditions more effectively and recover faster, so they can return to everyday life quickly. They will help GPs to manage their workload more effectively and reduce the need for onward referrals.

How to access this service

Contact your GP Practice if you have any lower back or neck pain issues.

Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash and additional information on this page sources from NHS England.