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First Contact Physiotherapist

Overview of the role

First Contact Practitioners (FCP) are qualified autonomous clinical practitioners who can assess, diagnose, treat, and manage musculoskeletal (MSK) problems and undifferentiated conditions – where appropriate – and discharge a person without a medical referral. FCPs working in this role can be accessed directly by self-referral or staff in GP practices can direct patients to them to establish a rapid and accurate diagnosis and management plan to streamline pathways of care.

Education and training required

  • A physiotherapy degree (BSc) is required to work as a physiotherapist in any setting.

  • For band 7 roles HEE primary care FCP capability training must be completed as the minimum threshold for entry to primary care and be supported by appropriate governance and indemnity.

  • HEE primary care FCP training can begin 3-5 years post registration.

  • For band 8a roles HEE FC primary care training must be completed, and applicants must be working at an advanced level of practice i.e. at masters level (level 7) across all four pillars of advanced practice.

Career framework

The starting salary for first contact physiotherapists is AfC band 7/8a.

Job description

NHSE/I have developed a job description and recruitment pack which is available on the FutureNHS website. Access to the site requires user registration. Once registered, navigate to the role selection page to find a range of supporting resources.

For brief outline of responsibilities, please see below:

  • Work as part of an MDT (multi-disciplinary team)  in a patient facing role, using their expert knowledge of MSK issues, to create stronger links for wider MSK services through clinical leadership, teaching and evaluation skills.

  • Assess, diagnose, triage, and manage patients, taking responsibility for the management of a complex caseload. FCPs will progress and request investigations (such as x-rays and blood tests) and referrals to facilitate diagnosis and choice of treatment.

  • Develop integrated and tailored care programmes in partnership with patients and provide a range of first line treatment options.

  • Develop relationships and a collaborative working approach across the Primary Care Network (PCN) supporting the integration of pathways in primary care.

  • Develop and make use of their full scope of practice, including skills relating to independent prescribing, injection therapy and investigation.

  • Manage complex interactions, including working with patients with psychosocial and mental health needs, referring to social prescribing when appropriate.

  • Support regional and national research and audit programmes to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of the FCP programme

Support available for introducing the role

From April 2020, this role will be reimbursed through the Additional Roles Reimbursement scheme at 100% of actual salary plus defined on costs, up to the maximum reimbursable amount of £55,670 over 12 months.

Further information

Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner Services – Implementation guide

CPD for physiotherapy staff

AHPs in Primary Care Networks

Introduction to First Contact Physiotherapy – YouTube video