Moves to introduce physiotherapy services to GP surgeries have been welcomed by BMA Cymru Wales.
A growing number of patients who want a GP appointment for musculoskeletal conditions are being offered the chance to see a physiotherapist instead – meaning patients get seen by the right professional.
The CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) in Wales has produced guidance showcasing what physiotherapists can do for GPs and how they can work within surgeries.
BMA Welsh GPs committee chair Charlotte Jones said: 'In the context of ever-rising GP workload and staff shortages, and the combined efforts of BMA Cymru Wales, local health boards and Welsh Government to expand primary care workforce numbers and skill mix, BMA Cymru Wales welcomes this workforce initiative.
'It has the potential to reduce workload pressures for GPs and their practice staff, as well as improve patient access to skilled general practice musculoskeletal services.
'The CPS has produced this guidance for physiotherapists, GP practices and health boards, in collaboration with GPC Wales.
'We anticipate that this will help to ensure patients get swift diagnosis and treatment for musculoskeletal conditions through the increased delivery of physiotherapy services in primary and community care settings.'
Gaining faster access to a specialist assessment improves the chances of recovery. Modelling by the CSP shows the average GP surgery can save £1,000 a week by offering this to patients.
In North Wales, physiotherapy is already being offered in more than 40 GP practices, with 17 physiotherapists having non-medical independent prescribing rights.
CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said: ‘It makes no sense for patients to be made to see a GP to get a referral when a physiotherapist can assess them just as effectively in the first instance.
‘Seeing a physiotherapist instead means their rehabilitation can start immediately if needed and allows GPs to spend more time with patients who need a medical diagnosis.
‘That is a win for patients and a win for the NHS so it is very encouraging to see these roles developing in Wales.’
Find out more about the resources
Read more from Richard Gurner and follow on Twitter.