A new report has suggested that physios and other healthcare professionals can be an effective solution when it comes to taking pressure away from GP surgeries.
Published by the King's Fund, 'Understanding Pressures in General Practice' looked at more than 30 million patient contacts from 177 practices between 2010 and 2015. It found that the number of consultations grew by 15 per cent across the five-year period.
This number factors in both over-the-phone and in-person meetings and is three times higher than the rate of increase in GPs.
Individually, there was a 13 per cent rise in face-to-face consultations and nearly a two-thirds increase (63 per cent) in telephone consultations. This is contributing to a more stressful and highly pressurised environment for family doctors.
However, being able to refer patients to other healthcare professionals to manage minor illnesses means that GPs can spend their time with people that need more time than the normal ten-minute appointment.
Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), said the report emphasises the role of physiotherapists in primary care.
"Our research shows that if physiotherapists were available in GP surgeries as the first point of contact for people with common issues like neck and back pain – currently up to 30 per cent of GP appointments - it would free up enough time for GPs to spend an extra five minutes with those patients they do need to see," she explained.
The RCP report found that the biggest increase in appointments was seen in patients over the age of 85, suggesting that an ageing population could be having a substantial impact on primary care in the future.
It also stated that any healthcare initiative to address problems in minor illness would need to prioritise ease of access for patients and effective treatment.
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