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New report backs physios in primary care

23 May 2016

Last week saw the launch of a report by leading independent health charity Nuffield Trust, which focuses on 'Reshaping the workforce to deliver the care patients need'.

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The report, released last week examined how NHS staffing can be reorganised to support new ways of delivering care to patients. The findings of the report suggests that equipping the existing non-medical workforce with additional skills is the best way to develop the capacity of the health service workforce. This is identified through 3 key recommendations:

  • Utilising the support workforce: evidence shows that support workers can provide good-quality, patient focused care, and reduce workload of more highly qualified staff members
  • Extending the skills of registered healthcare professionals: such as nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and paramedics
  • Advanced practice roles for nurses: offer opportunities to fill gaps in the medical workforce

The second of these recommendations in particular supports our position on providing high quality musculoskeletal services directly to patients without the need to see a GP, alleviating the immense pressures that primary care is facing due to an ageing population and an increase in patients with comorbidities. A particular section of the report, which highlights the importance of physiotherapists in primary care reads:

“One study has estimated that up to 70 per cent of primary care physicians’ work could be taken on by other health care professionals such as nurses or allied health professionals (Dubois and Singh, 2009). For example, a systematic review has found that direct access to physiotherapists (rather than patients with musculoskeletal complaints needing to be referred by a GP) leads to improved patient outcomes and decreased costs (Ojha and others, 2013). Trained physiotherapists are as competent at assessing orthopaedic outpatients as post-fellowship junior orthopaedic surgeons and consultations with physiotherapists have been found to generate lower hospital costs due to fewer X-ray or surgery referrals (Daker-White and others, 1999).”

To read the full report, click here.

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