This is a relatively new role that was introduced to try to ease the caseload of already overworked GPs. Research has shown that up to 30% of a GPs workload is made of up of Musculoskeletal conditions (MSK) and that this number increases as patients get older. Generally, GPs used to see the patient and then referred them on for physiotherapy without providing a diagnosis or treatment. This was a long, cumbersome process that led to longer waiting lists and referral times.
The FCP role was created, and now this vital role forms an integral part of NHS England’s long-term plan to:
With the advent of the FCP role, a patient can be seen at the first point of contact, bypassing the need to see the GP. This means that a specialist physiotherapist can treat the patient early on, reducing both waiting times and improving recovery times. It also means that GPs have more free time to treat other patients and allows the waiting lists for appointments to reduce.
In our experience of working with GP surgeries and Primary Care Networks (PCNs), an FCP can save over 40 hours of GP time in the first month and this rises month on month as the staff at the surgery gain confidence in making the referrals.
Every one of our First Contact Practitioners is a highly-skilled, experienced physiotherapist and works as part of the practice team to support in the assessment, diagnosis, early intervention, treatment and advice for patients with MSK complaints. They are able to refer patients onto specialist services at the earliest opportunity, thus allowing the patient to move seamlessly through the system. They are also trained to identify ‘red flag’ symptoms which would require further medical attention.
In terms of benefits, the patient is seen quicker and by the right person. This means that the early access to treatment will reduce the time suffering with a condition as well as improving the recovery time markedly. This has in turn been proven to reduce sickness absence, accelerate recovery time and improve the long-term health and well-being prospects of patients with MSK complaints. (Addley et al., 2010; Boorman, 2009; NHS Employers, 2012)
We have been providing First Contact Physiotherapy and Podiatry into Primary Care Networks since 2019. We have drawn on our experience in Private Practice to build a robust model to support an already overworked GP population and their practices.
We understand the challenges faced by Primary Care Networks and Doctor’s surgeries and we work together, becoming an integral part of the surgery to ensure that we get the best outcome for patients, first time, every time.
Our highly skilled physiotherapists will be able to work with the reception staff to ensure that the correct patients are referred to them and be present in the surgeries to provide support. They will be able to join local meetings and feedback on clinical outcomes and make onward referrals where appropriate.
Where required, our skilled physiotherapists can work remotely and provide detailed exercise regimes to patients that are unable to attend the surgery in person.
We work together with the Primary Care Networks to reduce waste, such as missed appointments and we are proud of the fact that our DNA rate is below the national 8-12% average. We achieve this through ensuring that the reception staff feel confident about explaining the First Contact Practitioner services and that the patient can see the benefit in meeting with a specialist.
We provide monthly data which can be tailored to the information that the PCNs wish to receive, but typically this will consist of treatment types and a focus on outcomes. Some examples of this are shown below.
"Xcel Health is amazing! My son (age 8) first had treatment there and amazing and big improvements. So helpful. I am having treatment for my ankle and walking issues with Xavier. The pain has gone from 10(being the worst) to 4 and that’s in four appointments. I can now walk without pain, put shoes without pain and now go back too exercise!! I can even go running without pain. Xavier is great and makes me feel comfortable and explains everything in detail."
- Rebecca King, 3 months ago
"I have just had my third session with Xavier and am beyond delighted with my experience of Xcel Health. Xavier is a tremendous physio but what has struck me most about the whole process is the welcoming nature of the entire team.The guys clearly care about the mental health side as much as the physical and are easy to talk to and extremely empathetic.I would recommend Xcel to anybody, outstanding service!"
- Danny Essen, 3 months ago
"I was pretty confident I knew what the problem was when I arrived for my first appointment. It turned out to be something completely different.Xavier explained everything really well without going too technical. I like to understand what’s going on and how to fix it so it was really refreshing that Xavier did that without needing to ask him. I have exercises to help support my recovery but not just a bit of paper or a video to watch, Xavier asked me to do each exercise before I left so that I could feel what muscles I’m trying to engage and He could make adjustments to my positioning so that I get the most out of my effort."
- louisajayne, 3 months ago