Physio Delight as Self-Referral Gets Go-Ahead

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has welcomed government plans to pilot new schemes that will change the way patients access healthcare services. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced the rollout and evaluation of pilot self-referral schemes across England. The schemes will allow patients to gain treatment and advice from physiotherapists and other allied health professionals without having to see their GP first.

Ms Hewitt said: ‘We look forward to seeing the results of the self-referral pilots. It is clear that physiotherapists have already made good headway in delivering high quality projects in this area.

‘Patients want to see the right specialist at a time of their choosing. For some this will mean going direct to a physiotherapist rather than more visits to their GP. These pilots will allow us to assess and potentially take forward greater direct access for patients.’

Welcoming the announcement, CSP Chief Executive Phil Gray said:

‘This announcement offers a real opportunity for revolutionary change in how people access NHS treatment and will put English patients on a par with their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

‘Physiotherapists have been at the heart of developing self-referral schemes for some time. Evidence from pioneering programmes shows this practice offers up real solutions to some of this Government’s toughest health challenges for England.

‘Waiting times are slashed, demands on GPs are reduced, NHS money is saved – especially where musculoskeletal and long-term conditions are concerned – and patient outcomes are improved.

‘Rapid physiotherapy access through self-referral can also help the Government deliver on two major policy areas it has been pushing recently: helping people off incapacity benefit and the White Paper on care outside hospitals. We are looking forward to working with the Government to make self-referral a realistic prospect for all patients.’