Igwesi-Chidobe, CN, Bishop, A, Humphreys, K, Hughes, E, Protheroe, J, Maddison, J and Bartlam, B (2021) Implementing patient direct access to musculoskeletal physiotherapy in primary care: views of patients, general practitioners, physiotherapists and clinical commissioners in England. Physiotherapy, 111. pp. 31-39. ISSN 0031-9406

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PURPOSE: Musculoskeletal problems are the leading cause of chronic disability. Most patients in the UK seek initial care from general practitioners (GPs), who are struggling to meet demand. Patient direct access to National Health Service physiotherapy is one possible solution. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of patients, GPs, physiotherapists and clinical commissioners on direct access in a region in England with it commissioned.

METHODS: The study was informed by Normalisation Process Theory (NTP). Data collection was via semi-structured individual face-to-face and telephone interviews with 22 patients and 20 health care professionals (HCPs). Data were analysed thematically using NPT.

RESULTS: Three themes emerged: understanding physiotherapy and the direct access pathway; negotiating the pathway; making the pathway viable. HCPs saw direct access as acceptable. Whilst patients found the concept of direct access, those with complex conditions continued to see their GP as first point of contact. Some GPs and patients reported a lack of clarity around the pathway, reflected in ambiguous paperwork and inconsistent promotion. Operational challenges emerged in cross-disciplinary communication and between HCPs and patients, and lack of adequate resources.

CONCLUSION: Direct access to NHS musculoskeletal physiotherapy is acceptable to patients and HCPs. There is need to ensure: effective communication between HCPs and with patients, clarity on the scope of physiotherapy and the direct access pathway, and sufficient resources to meet demand. Patient direct access can free GPs to focus on those patients with more complex health conditions who are most in need of their care.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. This is an open access article under the CC- BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Physiotherapy; Patient direct access; Self-referral; Health services delivery; Primary care; Normalisation process theory
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology > Physical medicine. Physical therapy. Including massage, exercise, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, phototherapy, radiotherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Primary, Community and Social Care
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 09:56
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2021 10:12
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9611

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