Now THAT is Direct Access...
A London hospital has piloted a project of staffing their walk-in center with both nurse practitioners and physiotherapists. The originally nurse-led team realized that many patients presenting to the service were coming in with musculoskeletal issues. Changing the service meant that someone coming in with a sprain, back pain or other acute orthopedic problem would be treated and followed by a physio, not a nurse, and there would be no wait for a referral to physio.
The initial findings are that patients are "delighted" and 90 percent said they would be likely to return to the walk-in center rather than attend their GP surgery for a similar problem.1 This makes entirely good sense - get the right people in the right place for the right job at the right time.
Walk-in centers here are staffed by nurse practitioners, not doctors. The accident and emergency departments have doctors on-site. For primary care though, why would doctors be necessary? If nurses and physios can handle straightforward presentations, let them.
The pilot has been extended through December 1. The trust will then evaluate the final results but it looks like it will continue beyond that date. I could see a wealth of opportunities for physios in this arena.
Does your hospital or health center regularly employ PTs in the ER as first-line providers of care?
1. Henson, G. (2011, October 5). Satisfied patients support trial walk-in physio service. Frontline, 17(17), p. 9.