Putting Physiotherapists on the front line
15 May 2015
Putting more physiotherapists on front line with GPs
Gary Morris, Associate Lecturer in the School of Healthcare Sciences, and the first physiotherapist in Wales to be registered as an in independent prescriber, urged the health service to invest in more advanced physiotherapy roles for primary care settings at a Policy Forum Wales event in Cardiff this week.
The first physiotherapist in
Wales to be registered as an in independent prescriber, Gary called on
NHS Wales to put more physiotherapists on the front line with GPs.
He pointed to evidence that such a move would relieve pressures on GP services and potentially save the Welsh economy millions of pounds.
According to Gary, the opportunities for reforming primary care services with a boosted presence of advanced physiotherapist practitioners include a freeing up of an estimated 600 GPs, with there being just 2,026 GPs in Wales.
These practitioners, he says, will help absorb the up-to-30% of GP attendances who seek treatment for musculoskeletal problems such as back pain and arthritis.
Perhaps most significant is the projected £21M annual saving that advanced physiotherapists could help make on primary and secondary care service costs by empowering patients to self-manage long-term conditions through prescribed exercise regimens and pain medication.
Gary said: "Physiotherapists have long been involved in the assessment, diagnosis and physical treatment of musculoskeletal, neurological and respiratory conditions. This new ability to be able to integrate appropriate medicines management with physical treatments is key in helping people to get the best treatment outcomes. It will also release vital GP and consultant capacity to deal with more complex cases."
The Policy Forum seminar, entitled 'Progress and priorities in reforming primary care services in Wales', responded to a Welsh Government paper which outlines the Minister for Health and Social Services' five-year plan for Wales' primary care service.
The novel approach is already being piloted by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board in North Wales, but Gary is seeking a wider roll-out across Wales.
In addition to teaching on the UK's
top-ranked course for physiotherapy, Gary also works as an advanced
physiotherapy practitioner in neurological rehabilitation for Hywel Dda University
In September, he was the first practicing physiotherapist in Wales to be given the green light to prescribe medicines to patients without the need for a doctors countersignature. This followed a change in the Human Medicines Regulation, which cleared the way for the Welsh Government to publish new legislation for patients to receive quicker access to the medication needed to treat their condition.