Ministers back self-referral plan

Patients should be able to self-refer to physiotherapists, podiatrists and allied health professionals without seeing a GP, health secretary Alan Johnson has said.

A study of 3,944 referrals at six sites showed that self-referral to musculoskeletal services increased attendance and completion of treatment and reduced absences from work.

Mr Johnson said: 'Self-referral will help both vulnerable members of society and those with busy lives by providing quicker access.'

More than 90 per cent of GPs involved in the study said they wanted the facility to continue, citing time saved in GP consultations and administrative work, increased patient convenience and reduced waiting times.

GPs said they saw benefits in physiotherapists being able to monitor NSAID use, request X-rays and issue sickness certification. They were more sceptical, however, about physiotherapists being able to prescribe NSAIDs.

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