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We like to dump patients on physios, not keep them away

Gone are the days when doctors refuse patients physiotherapy or surgery for back pain. Alan Johnson, in trying to describe a shift away from paternalistic practice, seems to have misunderstood the relationship between the GP and the physio.

Gone are the days when doctors refuse patients physiotherapy or surgery for back pain. Alan Johnson, in trying to describe a shift away from paternalistic practice, seems to have misunderstood the relationship between the GP and the physio.

More often than not, the physiotherapist offers a valuable therapeutic option for those with limb and joint pain. However, they also serve another purpose.

They are a dumping ground for all the enduring back pains and atypical limb pains that have flummoxed the GP. Some GPs feel redundant or frustrated at not being able to help such patients, while others experience a guilty pleasure from dumping such patients on the unsuspecting physio.

"Dumping" occurs throughout the medical profession and GP's often take the brunt of it. When I worked in A+E, and a patient presented with longstanding back pain, or some other unexplained and enduring symptom, I would be thankful that I could direct them back to their GP.

Indeed as a locum, when faced with the returning heart sink fibromyalgia patient, I am able to sympathise before informing them that their normal doctor would be very interested to hear about it when they got back. Their normal doctor is most likely on holiday however, to avoid such a consultation with said patient.

So don't worry Mr Johnson, I for one am happy to discard the unfashionable tag of paternalism and refer endlessly to physiotherapy.

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