Primary care first contact practitioner’s (FCP) challenges and learning and development needs in providing fitness for work and sickness absence certification: consensus development

Cameron Black*, Sivaramkumar Shanmugam, Heather Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background
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.
Objectives
The main aim of this 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.
Design
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.
Participants
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.
Conclusions
This research adds new evidence regarding the challenges and learning and development needs identified by a group of FCPs working within primary care in consideration of 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiotherapy
Volume116
Early online date11 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • first contact practitioner
  • musculoskeletal physiotherapy
  • musculoskeletal diseases
  • primary care
  • general practice
  • sickness absence
  • fit for work and occupational health
  • nominal group technique

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