Physio in GP Practices – Improving Primary Care
It’s surely not news to anyone working in the health profession that there is a crisis in GP recruitment. Currently in the UK, around 12% of all GP posts are unfilled. There are a number of reasons behind this, including an increasing demand for GP services from an ageing population and a failure to train enough new doctors to fill the shortfall.
Just as the problem has various causes, finding a solution will require a combination of different ideas. One approach that could have a significant impact would be to reduce the number of patients asking to see a GP by redirecting them to more appropriate services.
Physio in GP Practices
To give one example, as much as 30% of an average GP’s caseload is made up of dealing with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions (for patients over 75, it’s more like 50%). The vast majority of these patients don’t actually need to see a GP and will simply be referred straight to a physiotherapist. So what if we could cut out the GP and have these people engage directly with physiotherapists without the need for a referral?
Incorporating physiotherapists into GP practices can be beneficial both for GPs and patients. Not only can it cut down on GP workloads, it also saves time for patients who need physio, allowing them to access the help they need faster. This then has a knock-on effect for other patients, as reducing the strain on GPs means people who do need to see a doctor will be able to get an appointment much more quickly. In fact, it has been suggested that allowing patients to refer themselves to a physiotherapist without the need to see a doctor first could free up as many as 100 million GP appointments a year.
It’s also worth pointing out that most MSK conditions will get worse if left untreated. This means the sooner patients who need physiotherapy can be seen by a specialist, the less chance there is of their problem becoming more serious. Having physiotherapists as the first point of call for patients with musculoskeletal conditions can therefore improve patient care and again reduce the overall strain on services by preventing short-term problems from becoming long-term conditions needing care over a longer period.
Allowing patients to self-refer to a physiotherapist can also increase patient satisfaction, as it makes it simpler and faster to get the help they need, and means they have to take less time off work. Patients can feel more in control of the care they receive and, at the same time, it makes GPs jobs easier by allowing them to focus on patients who need their help specifically, allowing them to offer a better service to other patients.
Ultimately, this approach could lead to a whole range of services being offered alongside physio in GP practices, widening the scope of primary care and offering a significantly better service for patients while allowing GPs to make much more effective use of their time.
About East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Service
East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours Service is a not-for-profit social enterprise providing NHS services and urgent out-of-hours medical care for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups in Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead.
We offer out-of-hours work to GPs across these areas providing the opportunity for flexible work that can help general practitioners improve their career prospects and achieve a healthier work-life balance.
GPs who sign-up with us can choose when, where and how often they work, making out-of-hours practice an ideal option for those looking to fit their work around childcare and other commitments. You also get the chance to work across a number of different practices, giving you a wide range of experience which can be highly beneficial for your career development and help you identify the sort of practice that best suits you.