A first contact practitioner (FCP) is an experienced physiotherapist who has expertise and the advanced skills necessary to assess, diagnose and recommend appropriate treatment or referral for musculoskeletal (MSK) problems on a patient’s first contact, instead of a GP, when they visit their GP surgery.
Patients with MSK complaints can be booked in to see an FCP by a GP receptionist, GP or online. An FCP offers expert MSK assessment and diagnosis, however, is also integrated within the multi-disciplinary team in each GP practice. If appropriate, an FCP may prescribe a programme of exercises, refer for blood tests or X-ray, or refer a patient to an appropriate secondary health service e.g. rheumatology or orthopaedics. All FCP’s are trained to identify ‘red flag’ symptoms which may require medical attention.