First Contact Physiotherapist

First contact physiotherapists is a recent addition to primary care – the role was introduced to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions for patients, bypassing the need for patients to go to their GP for a referral for further care.

Patients with back and joint pain, including conditions such as arthritis, can contact their local physiotherapist directly, rather than waiting to see a GP or being referred to hospital – this is the role of the first contact physiotherapist.

The first contact therapist can assess, diagnose, treat and manage patients. They will usually have a caseload of patients which they will work with to develop tailored care programmes including information on how the patients can self manage their musculoskeletal conditions. This video provides an overview of the day to day of a first contact physiotherapist. 

Training Requirements

To become a first contact physiotherapist you must first qualify as a physiotherapist. A university degree is the most popular way to become a physiotherapist. The other option is to apply for a degree apprenticeship – find out more information here.

Once you’ve successfully completed your degree you’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before you can start practising.  After 3-5 years as a registered physiotherapist, you can commence the primary care FCP training to become a first contact physiotherapist.

Career opportunities and progression

  • Advanced Practitioner

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