Patients from three GP surgeries in Bath and North East Somerset are now benefiting from a pilot scheme giving rapid access to an ‘in-house’ specialist physiotherapist provided by Virgin Care.
As part of the new ‘First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP)’ service, patients with a wide range of painful conditions can be seen the same day by a highly-skilled physiotherapy practitioner.
This means they can now receive timely hands-on therapy or rehabilitation advice and treatments which, it is hoped, will significantly improve outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Anette Smidt, a senior Bath-based physiotherapist for Virgin Care is leading the new pilot.
She said: “This is a very exciting avenue of treatment. Pain from joint and soft tissue problems is very common and patients in the past have often had long waits to receive specialist treatment.”
The service is provided by Virgin Care and is one of only 40 other similar services across the country.
Currently, the pilot is being trialled at Fairfield Park Health Centre in Bath, St Chad’s surgery in Midsomer Norton, and St Augustine’s surgery in Keynsham.
Anette added: “Patients, for example, with back pain, or discomfort caused by arthritis, inflammatory conditions or an injury can now see a physio quickly at their own surgery.
“They can then be managed locally or be referred onto orthopaedic or other specialists directly depending on their condition.”
It is also hoped that this service will alleviate some of the pressure on GPs created by increasing demand.
Dr Dan Lashbrook, a GP partner at Fairfield Park Health Centre, said: “Medicine continues to become more and more complex with patients often presenting with multiple complex problems.
“The FCP service is a huge boost to patient treatment choice and will help relieve these pressures on GPs.”
An FCP Physiotherapist is an advanced practitioner working within primary care who has extensive experience in the assessment, diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal conditions.
Their skills are honed from many years of training, usually in a hospital environment alongside specialities such as orthopaedics and rheumatology.
Working alongside GPs in the community helps to lessen the divide between general practice and hospital-based specialities.
Dr Lashbrook anticipates the advantages that the new service can bring. “We are very excited to see the impact this will have,” he said.
“We anticipate that other surgeries will look to offer the same opportunities and we hope to see an expansion across all surgeries in the BANES area and beyond in the near future.”