Showing the effectiveness of emergency physiotherapy practitioners


A case study from the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, demonstrating the value of emergency physiotherapy practitioners in treating patients with musculoskeletal dysfunction in an emergency department.

What was the aim?

To show how musculoskeletal (MSK) emergency physiotherapy practitioners (EPPs) improved patient outcomes and patient flow while reducing costs in the emergency department (ED) at Queen's Hospital, Burton-upon-Trent.

EPPs work independently from doctors and nurses, undertaking expert management for patients with MSK dysfunction.

What was the solution?

One year's data was collected to establish the mean number of ED attendances, the time to initial assessment, total time spent in ED and unplanned reattendance rates within seven days, for all patients seen by the EPPs. This data was compared to the national average published by NHS Digital.

What were the results?

Patients seeing the EPP in the ED:

  • were seen 10 minutes quicker than others in the region, and 20 minutes quicker than the national average
  • spent two hours less in the ED than patients nationally, and over half an hour less than others in the region
  • unplanned reattendances reduced by 50% to 60%

What were the learning points?

Capturing data to reveal the impact of new care models is essential to show the quality and productivity benefits of introducing new roles into the ED. There are desirable alternatives to the traditional medical model of treating MSK dysfunction in the ED.

Next steps

The trust has invested to make EPPs available seven days a week in ED.

Want to know more?

Please contact:

Dr Emma Salt, consultant physiotherapist:

More information is also available via a paper published by Dr Salt in the Open Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation.

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