First Contact Practitioner – Musculoskeletal (MSK) Physiotherapist


MSK First Contact Practitioners are regulated, advanced and autonomous healthcare professionals trained to provide expert MSK assessment, diagnosis and first-line treatment, self-care advice and if required and appropriate, discharge a person without medical or onward referral.

The development of First Contact Practitioner MSK (FCP) services across the UK allows people with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions to access MSK physiotherapy expertise at the start of the pathway, ensuring timely access to diagnosis, early management and onward referral if necessary. This benefits patients, primary care and the wider MSK system.

Link for more information on MSK First Contact Practitioner: NHS England: MSK First Contact Practitioner

Job Responsibilities

  • Advanced MSK assessment and diagnosis
  • Provide information on self-care and enable and support behaviour change
  • Discuss fitness for work
  • Undertake social prescribing
  • Discuss physical activity and health (e.g. smoking cessation and weight management)
  • Refer to a course of treatment (e.g. physiotherapy or podiatry)
  • Refer to orthopaedic / rheumatology / pain services
  • Request investigations
  • Medicines optimisation
  • Administer joint / soft tissue injections (if qualified).

Role of MSK FCP

Entry Requirements/FCP Recognition

  • BSc in Physiotherapy
  • At least 3 years post graduate experience in MSK and 5 years post graduate study
  • Usually working at an Agenda for Change Band 7
  • Advanced MSK practitioners (AP’s) may work at a Band 8a (the role is evaluated and will be determined by the complexity of the clinical workload and the scope of the role)

Training and Development

  • Working alongside the ‘First Contact Practitioners AND Advanced Practitioners in Primary care (Musculoskeletal); Roadmap to practice (link below), FCPs must have completed both stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Roadmap to gain recognised First Contact Practitioner MSK status.
  • Stage 1: Preferably, must be completed with a portfolio of evidence and verified before employment in Primary Care. The KSA must be completed prior to employment as a FCP or AP in Primary Care to assure patient safety. For MSK clinicians already working in primary care this can be completed retrospectively. 
  • Stage 2:  Is completed with a portfolio of evidence and verified in Primary Care. This is the recognition process of the application of the KSA in Stage 1 to clinical practice in Primary Care. Best practice is that this should be completed within 6 – 12 months for a full-time member of staff but this can be longer provided a completion date is agreed with the employer.
  • ‘Trainee’ FCP’s are advised to keep a folder of evidence ready to submit in the final stages of their pathway.
  • For Band 8a roles (Advanced Practitioner MSK Physiotherapist) FCP Primary Care training must be completed, and a clinician must be working at an advanced level of practice across all four pillars of advanced practice i.e. at Masters level.

Roadmap supervision and verification

Roadmap Supervision and Verification is a process of developing a portfolio of evidence both academically and application of that knowledge into practice. This is marked and signed off by a recognised Roadmap Supervisor.

Roadmap Supervisors (RMSV)

The role of a National Trainer and Roadmap Supervisor comes with the responsibility of undertaking workplace-based assessments (within your own scope of practice) and verifying evidence of knowledge, skills, and capability in day-to-day practice.  For those interested in becoming Roadmap Supervisor, a RMSV course is available.  For more information on this role, please see this link: Roadmap supervision courses | Health Education England (  Various course spaces are released throughout the year.

Important document links:

First contact Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners in Primary care: (Musculoskeletal) A Roadmap to Practice

The Musculoskeletal Core Capabilities Framework (2018)

Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioners

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