First Contact Practitioner FAQ

What is an FCP?

A first contact practitioner (FCP) is usually an experienced practice physiotherapist who has the advanced skills necessary to assess, diagnose and manage musculoskeletal (MSK) problems – such as lower back pain, ankle sprains or frozen shoulder, for example.

An FCP service allows patients who would normally present to their GP with an MSK issue, to self-refer to a professional with expertise in that field. This ‘cuts out the middle man’ and helps to ensure the correct advice/exercises are prescribed from day one, allowing patients to take control of their recovery from day one.

When did we first start doing FCP?

Our Surrey Physio team in North East Hants & Hampshire started in February 2018 and after great success, have expanded into providing this service into six GP practices. We then expanded into more PCNs and GP surgeries throughout London.

How is a First Contact Practitioner Funded?

We have experience with the DES and PCAS funding and can provide full support and assistance to the Clinical Director or Practice Manager with that process.

How long are First Contact Practitioner Appointment Times?

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy recommends that appointment times are 20 minutes. This is to allow enough time to take a history, perform an examination, screen for red flags, prescribe exercises and advice, administer an injection (if applicable), or do an onward referral.

How do First Contact Practitioners Integrate into Primary Care Networks?

Our team of physiotherapists are integrated into the GP surgery, as a “One Primary Care Team”. They often work across multiple GP surgeries in a PCN. We usually provide one session per 5000 patients, although we expect that number to increase as more funding becomes available. At the moment, one FCP will be present for a PCN of a population between 30,000-50,000.

Who will be your Main Points of Contact?

Tim Allardyce is the Clinical Director.
Ben Coffey is the FCP Clinical Lead.
Luke Woodward is the FCP Manager.
All of the above can be contacted via their email addresses.

Is there a Complaints Procedure for a First Contact Practitioner?

We have a standard complaints procedure, and we manage all of our complaints. Fortunately, they are very few and are usually dealt with swiftly by our practice management team.

What Training does a First Contact Practitioner Undergo?

We have a thorough FCP Training programme that takes 2 years. This involves advanced training, injection training (where possible), advanced diagnostic skills, advanced radiography skills and advanced communication skills.

What Support is provided to a First Contact Practitioner?

We provide FCPs with a full team environment, including meet-ups, Live CPD, grandparent links (to a more experienced practitioner in the group, software support and training using our own software and GP software, full statutory and mandatory training.

How do we Support the Clinical Director/Practice Manager?

Surrey Physio provide an end-to-end service, supporting the PM and CD with funding, integration, and set-up. We manage the physiotherapists, and provide external training days. We do all the necessary checks, safeguarding and legal support.

What is Our Capacity?

We know that recruiting physiotherapists is tough. Last year, 18% of NHS physiotherapy jobs were unfilled. There is a lack of Band 7 and Band 8a physiotherapists. We have been working very hard over the last 12 months to upskill our existing team to the role of FCPs through our own FCP training programme and competencies. We currently have the capacity for 7 FCPs to be deployed into PCNs over the next 16 weeks.

What do you need to do next?

Surrey Physio invites you to contact us for more information about how the national integration of FCPs may affect your GP practice or PCN. We have experience and knowledge in procurement, contract policy and service implementation, and are happy to discuss the potential of services we are able to provide.

Email: Luke Woodward (Business Strategy Manager) [email protected]

Or call us on 02086856930

For further information on the FCP model, please see the below link: