The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has outlined its key priorities for a more robust, better functioning health system to the major parties ahead of the state election on March 3.

Accessibility to high quality physiotherapy treatment and evidence-based practices are high priorities for Tasmania’s 482 physios, two-thirds of whom are APA members.

With a growing evidence base for physiotherapy-led interventions in lieu of some surgeries and medicines, the APA is calling on Tasmanian MPs responsible for the state’s health to enhance services. Commitments from the major parties are sought for:

  • Employing primary contact physiotherapists in all emergency departments (ED) throughout the state

Patients who have been treated by ED physiotherapists report high levels of satisfaction - both with the treatment received and reduced waiting times. Australian data has shown patients treated by primary contact physiotherapists waited on average 31 minutes less than those treated by other practitioners, with 93% discharged within 4 hours compared to 75% of patients discharged by other practitioners.

  • Expanded services for patients with chronic pain conditions

GPs recommend physiotherapy as a safe, effective treatment for chronic pain that does not carry the risks opioid based drugs. With the changes in codeine access laws effective 1 February, more patients will seek support and relief from physiotherapists, to get back to normal function. The APA is seeking funding for the evaluation and delivery of physiotherapist-led intervention programs for patients with chronic pain.

  • Legislation for advanced scope physiotherapists to prescribe medicines

Reappraisal of the role of advanced scope physiotherapists in prescribing medicines in ED settings is sought. Recent studies have shown non-medical practitioner prescribing to be both clinically effective and cost effective in hospital settings.

  • Legislation for physiotherapists to issue work capacity certificates

As proven in Victoria, physiotherapists issuing certificates of capacity improves outcomes for injured workers and reduces red tape bureaucracy in the health and compensation systems.

APA Tasmania Branch President Catherine Back says additional physiotherapy services are key to improvements. “There is strong evidence to support first contact physios in EDs, particularly for patients presenting with musculoskeletal conditions. An advanced physiotherapy triage system would reduce waiting times and wait lists for specialist physicians, thus paving the way for a much more efficient health system in general.”

“When patients are seen quickly, their chances of better outcomes are greatly improved, and when unnecessary admissions or specialist consultations are avoided, the health system also wins. Enhanced physiotherapy services will aid both these outcomes.”

Catherine Back is available for interview or further comment.


Related tags