Physiotherapy services having to adapt to higher demands of ageing population

Wednesday 24th October 2018
Physiotherapists have been speaking about how integrating their services with those of GPs are helping improve patient pathways.
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Physiotherapy patient pathways are having to be adapted as patient demand rises due to an ageing population, delegates at the Physiotherapy UK event in Birmingham heard.

The situation was described by several senior managers of GP services across the UK as they explained how structures have been established to deal with these challenges.

Stormont Murray, an advanced physiotherapy practitioner in primary care at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, explained how the primary care physiotherapy service covers a large area including 105 GP practices and 13 GP clusters. In this arrangement, the 21 physiotherapists see patients in surgeries, with 20-minute appointment lots.

He explained: "The advanced skills we have can help to relieve general practices of patient contact. This has resulted in 30 per cent more GP availability.

"Patients are getting faster access to MSK expertise and it is increasing GP capacity. Patient motivation is higher in primary care and so much can be achieved in a 20 minute appointment. It’s the most satisfying area I have ever worked in."

Other speakers explaining the structure of their services included Sarah Morton, head of adult physiotherapy at Gloucestershire Care Services. She described how an area with 76 GP practices and 16 GP clusters is served by its musculoskeletal advanced physiotherapy practitioner team via two clusters, one in the city of Gloucester and the other in Aspen.

This enables better coordination and decision making through the co-location of GP and physiotherapy services. 

Catherine van’t Riet, clinical team leader for the service at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust, said the approach in Wandsworth, London is based on proactive and preventative work, including identifying the risk of bone injuries from falls. 

These speakers were just some of the many at the event, with other topics covered during the two days including the need for musculoskeletal disorders to be a public health priority. Physical activity clinical champion for Public Health England Anna Lowe spoke on this topic. 

Written by Matthew Horton

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