The First Contact Practitioner role is a huge opportunity for MSK osteopaths to join Primary Care on a clear developmental career pathway.
At the moment GPs cannot get funding for First Contact osteopaths but can receive 100% funding for physiotherapists. A huge amount of work has been going on to attain funding status and we are hopeful that will change ready for April.
But, there’s good news…
Osteopaths can be included in contracted FCP services as part of a MSK team. Many teams include osteopaths in their job descriptions. There are opportunities available now.
The FCP roadmap is fully inclusive. If osteopaths can show they fulfil the criteria for the role they will be able to become registered FCPs.
How can you become an FCP?
First of all you need to really understand the role. There is lots of information here. Musculoskeletal (MSK) First Contact Practitioners | Health Education England (hee.nhs.uk)
FCP is a diagnostic triage and advice role. It does not involve treatment. If you enjoy clinical reasoning and integrating with other health practitioners this is the role for you.
There are lots of opportunities for part-time roles. In fact, portfolio careers are being encouraged in the NHS.
Secondly, you need to be aware of the FCP roadmap First Contact Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners in Primary Care: (Musculoskeletal) A Roadmap to Practice . By April 2022 you will not be able to gain an FCP role without fulfilling the criteria to join the FCP register. You need to demonstrate knowledge and application of the competencies for the FCP role – including shared decision making, pain science, personal care plans.
What is the FCP job like?
You usually work on a 20 minute list and clinics are full. You will assess MSK conditions and then either provide reassurance, advice and self-management support, perhaps request imaging or blood tests, or refer to another service – secondary care, physiotherapy or something else. It is busy, varied, interesting and challenging.
You will be well supported. The roadmap encourages regular supervision and development within the role. It is based on the training framework GPs have.
First Contact roles are available for paramedics, occupational therapists, and several other professions. This is a very exciting opportunity for the osteopathic profession.