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Orthopaedic practitioner

Greater experience than a GP, but a more appropriate source of care than an orthopaedic consultant. Can provide an interface service in a community setting, delaying the need for surgery.

Greater experience than a GP, but a more appropriate source of care than an orthopaedic consultant. Can provide an interface service in a community setting, delaying the need for surgery.

Job description

Orthopaedic practitioners are also commonly referred to as extended scope practitioners or extended scope physiotherapists. They can screen all musculoskeletal referrals from GPs in a community setting and signpost patients to the appropriate therapy.

They also act as an interface to stop patients being referred for surgery too early when other therapies may be more appropriate. Some are also trained to do cortisone injections.

They can ‘work up' patients by making sure they have had the necessary investigations and X-rays before being seen by the consultant, shortening the acute care pathway. There are examples where orthopaedic practitioners list patients for surgery directly rather than through the consultant.

Potential recruits

Usually physiotherapists, but occasionally nurses.

Training and accreditation

Physiotherapists wanting to specialise in neuromusculoskeletal disorders to be orthopaedic practitioners are normally expected to have completed a masters level programme. This will include training in skills such as ordering X-rays and MRI scans and taking blood. A medic will usually act as a mentor.

Any physiotherapist undertaking a masters programme in the specialty will need to be registered with the Health Professions Council and, normally, be members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Some physiotherapists working in the orthopaedic field may have completed a masters in sports medicine or sports physiotherapy.


NHS band 7 or 8a – £37,000-£44,500

Postholder's verdict

Kate Taylor, clinical lead for Dorset orthopaedic treatment service and an orthopaedic practitioner, says: ‘I feel my skills, knowledge and previous experience are being used in the right place and patients are being seen in the right place now at the right time.

‘I knew with my previous experience that I could give patients advice on how to self-manage and I am able to discuss with patients the different treatment options.'

Orthopaedic practitioner Further information

Two Chartered Society of Physiotherapy clinical interest groups run postgraduate programmes in the orthopaedic specialty. Successful completion of these programmes leads to full membership of these groups.

The first is the Association for Chartered Physiotherapists with an interest in Orthopaedic Medicine and Injection Therapy (ACPOMIT). Members must have completed the Society of Orthopaedic Medicine Diploma or an equivalent course in orthopaedic medicine, which teaches them to use the principles of orthopaedic medicine to diagnose and treat lesions of the neuromusculoskeletal structures. This diploma provides academic credit towards a number of related masters degrees.

The second is the Manipulation Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP). Members have undertaken extensive postgraduate study (most at masters level) and reached a
recognised standard of excellence in neuromusculoskeletal physiotherapy.

Ten UK universities run masters programmes.
Society of Orthopaedic Medicine
Manipulation Association of Chartered Physiotherapists

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