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Physiotherapists say they should be able to sign fit notes to ease GP workloads



The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has called for physiotherapists to be employed in practices, and to be able to sign fit notes in a bid to reduce GPs’ workloads.

Doctors at the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting voted that patients should be able to self-certify illness for 14 days, rather than a week as it is currently.

Jenny Nissler, CSP professional adviser said ’providing fit notes adds to GPs’ workloads’, and ’other professionals, such as physiotherapists, have the skills and knowledge to be able do this’.

She added: ‘Trained to identify possible serious pathology in the same way as doctors, physiotherapists are physical activity specialists. They can support people in returning to work sustainably, or to avoid an absence in the first place – which is good for people, employers and the economy.

‘By rolling out direct access to physiotherapy, for example in GP surgeries, and potentially optimising the use of fit notes, it is possible to keep people fit for work and ease the strain on general practice.’

Instead of increasing the self-certification period, the CSP suggests giving patients direct access to physiotherapists in GP surgeries.

Karen Middleton, CSP chief executive, said: ‘Our modelling shows that providing direct access in practices would free up GPs to spend an extra five minutes with their patients, as well as saving the average practice £1,000 a week.’

’Patients with a musculoskeletal condition can account for up to 30% of caseloads so it’s no surprise that GPs are increasingly bringing in physios to work alongside them as a first point of contact.’