What is a First Contact Practitioner (FCP)?

This is a role created to support GPs and ease their huge caseload. Research has shown that up to 30% of a GPs caseload at any one time is comprised of Musculoskeletal Complaints.

An FCP works within the GP surgery or the wider PCN as a part of the Clinical team, seeing patients who have MSK needs.

An FCP is a fully qualified, experienced Physiotherapist who is able to assess, diagnose, treat and manage patients with a range of Musculoskeletal conditions. They are accredited by Health Education England and have to follow the highest clinical and professional standards. They are also registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.


What are the benefits of having an FCP?

  • check-iconNo long waiting times to see an NHS Physiotherapist in a hospital
  • check-iconSeeing the right person at the right time, first time
  • check-iconLess likelihood of acute conditions becoming chronic
  • check-iconImprovement of patient care, shorter lead time means that patients feel more positive, and feel reassured as the Specialist FCP explains the condition so that they understand
  • check-iconFaster recovery
  • check-iconThorough assessment, diagnosis and treatment of any MSK conditions – typically appointments are at least twice as long as a GP appointment
  • check-iconEasier access to MSK knowledge and skills
  • check-iconRemoving burdensome MSK caseload from overworked GPs, allowing them to spend more time focussing on patients that they can potentially help
  • check-iconBetter quality appointments
  • check-iconAbility to reduce costs associated with GP capacity
  • check-iconReduction in cost of prescriptions
  • check-iconFCPs able to carry out some tasks that typically fall on a GP
  • check-iconReception staff able to triage and book appointments directly
  • check-iconSmall number of patients referred onwards to secondary Care or back to GPs (typically under 10%)
  • check-iconReduction in waiting times
  • check-iconFCPs are autonomous and can manage their own caseload
  • check-iconIntegration into Practice/ PCN workforce
  • check-iconCan work the extended hours

Due to the fact that people are seen quicker, it has been shown to reduce overall sickness absence, accelerate recovery time and improve the long term health and well-being prospects of people with MSK Complaints (Addley et al., 2010; Boorman, 2009; NHS Employers, 2012)

How Does it work?


The Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme was introduced by NHS England in 2019 to support the recruitment of additional roles into Primary Care. These additional funds were made available to the Primary Care Networks to create more frontline roles and support the reduction in waiting lists at GP surgeries.


The funds are allocated to each PCN and this is calculated according to how many patients they have registered. The PCN is then free to allocate these funds as they see fit and hire for any of the roles that are covered by the ARRS funding.


This funding covers a number of roles, such as Clinical Pharmacists, Social Prescribers, Podiatrists, Paramedics, Occupational Therapists, Dietitians, and Physiotherapists to name but a few.


Depending on the demography (and sometimes geography) of the area, the PCN chooses the distribution of roles that best reflects their population and the services that are required.


The PCN applies to their local CCG for these funds. Once they have been agreed, the PCN is able to create any new role and fund it.


The newly employed person does not sit on their direct payroll, with the salary being covered by the AARS funding money that has been made available by NHS England. This might be a person who is hired directly by the PCN or through a company, such as Xcel Health.

Why Choose Xcel Health for your PCN?

We have been providing services into Primary Care Networks since 2019, and are able to draw on our experience of running 4 successful Private Clinics to build a comprehensive and robust model to support our colleagues in the NHS.

We understand the challenges faced by Primary Care Networks and GP surgeries and we work together, becoming an integral part of the surgery to ensure that we get the best outcome for patients, first time, every time.

It is why our Clinicians work really hard to become an integrated member of your local team, ensuring that patients can get the best outcomes on their first visit, every time.


Our highly skilled Clinicians will be able to work with the reception staff to ensure that the correct patients are referred to them and be present in the surgeries to provide support. They will be able to join local meetings and feedback on clinical outcomes and make onward referrals where appropriate.


They have all embarked and passed the FCP Roadmap set out by HEE and done all the required mandatory trainings. We have qualified supervisors who will frequently observe and feed back on their work, ensuring that the highest clinical and ethical standards are met at all times.

Where required, our Clinicians can work remotely to triage patients, providing advice to those in need of it and booking in face to face appointments where required. This is particularly helpful if Clinic space is at a premium and every appointment counts!

We work together with the Primary Care Networks to reduce waste, such as missed appointments and we are proud of the fact that our DNA rate is below the national average of 12%. We achieve this through ensuring that the reception team feel confident about explaining the benefits of the Service and that the patient can see the benefit of such an outcome.

How can we check if you are doing a good job?

good job

We will regularly ask for feedback from patients in regards to their experiences. Not only is this a requirement of HEE, but it is an important part of the role that we do. We have to validate and understand the experience of the patients, so that we can ensure they are satisfied with the service that they receive.

good job

We will also send you monthly data which will typically detail the number of appointment slots and the number of patients seen, the body areas that have been treated and the outcomes. These reports can be tailored if there is anything that you particularly want to see.