First Contact Physiotherapist Pilot Evaluation – South Tyneside

The evaluation data highlights that an average of 93% of patients were suitably seen and managed within the FCP clinic.

Why needed?

Thirty percent of all GP appointments involve an MSK complaint (NHS England, 2019). To help manage this demand and reduce GP workload the FCP role has been developed (Goodwin and Hendrick 2016).

Aims of FCP

The aim of the FCP is to assist General Practice in managing patients with MSK disorders by providing appropriate self-management strategies or onward referral from the first point of contact. They can reduce unnecessary investigations and reduce referrals into secondary care or expedite the patient journey where warranted thus benefitting the patient, GP practices, secondary care services and the wider team.

South Tyneside region

The local population of South Tyneside is roughly 150,000. Life expectancy in South Tyneside is on average 8 years less than those living in the healthiest parts of England, with a gap of over 10 years between the most deprived and least deprived communities within South Tyneside.


FCP Pilot background

In October 2019, the PCN South in the South Tyneside district which incorporates 6 GP practices with a population of circa 57,000, commissioned a pilot FCP service.

• Initially 20minute face to face were provided with a flexible mixed model approach with onset of COVID19 pandemic.

• Sessions were increased as utilisation improved.

• The service is a collaboration between physiotherapy and the GP team.

• Management of presenting patients was streamlined via this pathway

• The service was accessed via a direct booking from the GP receptionist/AHP signposting or via online consultation/ triage service.


Key findings

Right person, right place, first time

• Single FCP appointment rates 59%

• Only 7 patients referred back to the GP (617 total patients seen)

Reducing investigations, imaging, pharmacology

• Only 5 patients were referred for X-ray

• All of which complied with RCR guidelines

Decreased secondary care referrals

• Four patients were referred directly to secondary care streamlining the patient journey and providing cost savings

100% surgical conversion rates

• All patients referred to orthopaedics have either had or been listed for surgery as planned.


Read the full case study here