Patients will be able to self-refer to physios

The DoH is today expected to back a plan for England in which patients would be able to bypass GPs and self-refer to physiotherapists and other health staff.

Dieticians, podiatrists and speech therapists would also be included in the move, which has already been implemented in some areas including Scotland.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘This has the potential to improve patient access to health services as long as there is good communication between doctors, patients and allied health professionals and also sufficient capacity.

‘Access to physiotherapy services varies across the country. In some areas it is good, in others the service is stretched beyond capacity and some patients choose to go private to be seen within a reasonable time.

‘If there were a rise in direct referrals in overstretched areas there would need to be additional investment to meet the demand for appointments. Without this, we could have a situation where those patients who are referred by their GP or who are leaving hospital have trouble accessing these services.’

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