Letter to Editor: FCPs in Primary Care
As yet, the benefit of the Fit Note has not been convincingly demonstrated, although a limited body of research suggests that provision of fitness for work advice and sickness absence certification may be improved with training and case-specific direction. The role of certifying sickness absence in the UK has traditionally been conducted by General Practitioners, but this role has now been extended to First Contact Practitioner (FCP) Physiotherapists in primary care. Therefore, FCPs may offer an ideal solution to the current challenges faced within primary care for those with a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition at risk of sickness absence from their work environment.
The main aim of the study was to identify the challenges and key learning and development needs of FCPs in response to providing Occupational Health (OH) information in the form of fitness for work advice and sickness certification for patients with MSK conditions within primary care.
Consensus was generated using an online modified version of the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) method. A priori consensus threshold of 60% was used in the voting stage.
NGT participants included clinicians with experience in managing MSK conditions in primary care within the FCP model of care. All participants generated, voted, and ranked the items using an online platform.
This research adds new evidence regarding the challenges and learning and development needs identified by a group of FCPs working within primary care with regards to sickness absence certification and fitness for work advice. The items highlighted provide evidence to complement Health Education England’s FCP A Roadmap to Practice educational pathway and informs on professional development needs in this area.
This commentary/letter to the Editor provides the rationale behind the study and scopes the future landscape in the area.
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