Physiotherapy is a science-based healthcare profession that promotes recovery in illness, injury or disability. It aims to restore movement and functional ability to the person’s full potential. Physiotherapy is an independent profession where practitioners make their own treatment decisions and clinical judgements. They constantly reassess the results of their treatments and adjust their approach.

Physiotherapists in the United Kingdom are HCPC registered health care professionals. They treat people of all ages from newborns to the very old. They take a holistic approach and involve the patient closely in their own care.

Physiotherapy is sometimes abbreviated to “PT” or “Physio”. Physiotherapists may work on their own or with other colleagues in a clinic or hospital. They can also work in teams with doctors, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and others.

First Contact Physiotherapy


Low back and neck pain are the greatest cause of years lost to disability in the UK, with chronic joint pain or osteoarthritis affecting more than 8.75 million people. In addition, musculoskeletal conditions also account for 30% of all GP appointments.

By 2024, all adults in England will to be able to see a musculoskeletal first contact physiotherapist at their local GP practice without being referred by a GP.

The vast majority of musculoskeletal first contact practitioners are physiotherapists with enhanced skills. They can help patients with musculoskeletal issues such as back, neck and joint pain by:

  • assessing and diagnosing issues
  • giving expert advice on how best to manage their conditions
  • referring them onto specialist services if necessary.

Patients with back and joint pain, including conditions such as arthritis, will now be able to contact their local physiotherapist directly, rather than waiting to see a GP or being referred to hospital. Patients can also see a physiotherapist by speaking to the GP practice receptionist or by being referred by their GP.

Benefits For Patients

• Quick access to expert MSK (Musculo-Skeletal)  assessment, diagnosis, treatment & advice
• Prevention of short-term problems becoming long-term conditions
• Improved patient experience
• A shorter pathway, so patients have fewer appointments to attend
• Simple logistics, so patients are less likely to miss
appointments, or to suffer administrative errors
• Opportunity to gain lifestyle/physical activity advice
• Longer appointment times, meaning patients
feel listened to, cared for and reassured