First Contact Physio

  • First contact physiotherapists (FCPs) are advanced practitioners working within primary care with extensive expertise in the clinical assessment, diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.
  • FCPs see patients with (suspected or diagnosed) MSK conditions as the first point of contact, instead of a GP, and can be accessed directly by contacting the practice’s reception.
  • A typical FCP appointment involves assessment, diagnosis and first-line treatment. FCPs can also refer patients for a course of physiotherapy treatment, order investigations or make referrals into secondary care services using the same pathways as GPs. Some FCPs are also able to independently prescribe and provide injection therapy.
  • As a person-centred service, most appointments include self-management advice, social prescribing, and discussions about physical activity and fitness for work.

Though first contact physiotherapy roles have so far focused on MSK, a small number of services are using the FCP model for other priority areas, including frailty. The CSP will share examples of these services as more are developed.

Whilst some FCPs may have undertaken the required post-registration training in medicines management (including prescribing and injection therapy), these tasks are not currently within the role but a referral can be made to the local physiotherapy service or GP for this as required.