First Contact Practitioners

First contact practitioners are qualified autonomous clinicians who can assess, diagnose, treat and manage problems and undifferentiated conditions, thereby reducing the demand on other primary care clinicians. First contact professions including paramedics, Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians and Podiatrists.

First contact practitioner (FCP) roles began with the development of the FCP Physiotherapist in 2014, in response to the shortage of General Practitioners (GPs) in Primary Care. The role of the FCP is to support GPs as part of a multi-professional care team and to optimise the patient care pathway by seeing the right person in the right place at the right time. A FCP is a qualified autonomous clinician who is able to assess, diagnose, treat and manage problems including undifferentiated conditions, without the patient needing to see a GP first. FCP roles have since developed to include other professions, these include: paramedics, Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians and Podiatrists.

Roadmaps to Practice

FCPs are required to completed the Health Education England's (HEE) Roadmap for Practice. This standardisation assures governance and ultimately patient safety, ensuring capability to see and manage undifferentiated and undiagnosed presentations within an agreed scope of practice. The Roadmap to practice has two stages. Stage 1 should be completed with a portfolio of evidence prior to employment within primary care. Stage 2 is completed when working in primary care within 6 months or longer if agreed with employer. The CQC will expect to see evidence or assurance that staff recruited into FCP roles have completed stage 1 of the roadmap and expect arrangements for completion of stage 2 of the roadmap (source - CQC Mythbuster)

Stage 1 of Roadmap

Stage 2 of Roadmap

How to Complete the Roadmap

Independent portfolio route (until end of April 2024)

  • For those individuals who have already completed the independent portfolio route, NHSE WTE will have written to them to inform them that they have received their survey and that they have completed the FCP roadmap requirements and successfully completed stages 1 & 2. Initial methods to offer recognition via the centre of advancing practice, by holding a FCP directory or instead offer a digital badge have not been viable.
  • For those currently doing the independent portfolio route - who have a roadmap supervisor to sign off their stage 1 & 2 – this pathway will be closed end of April 2024.
  • For further information see stage 1 and 2 verification processes linked above.

Supported Portfolio Route

The supported portfolio route is via higher education institutes (HEIs). This will run alongside the existing taught route.

An individual may choose to do the supported portfolio route if they already have already started to compile a portfolio of evidence. A Learning Needs Analysis will help identify how far an individual is towards completion of both Stages 1 & 2. The LNA is designed to determine what your learning needs are and what route will best suit your learning style and circumstances. Appropriate support will be offered from the HEI, for some, there may be sufficient evidence of completion and the education provider will confirm this, for others, there may be a need to complete various elements of the process.

To access this, application is via the HEIs. HEE have compiled a list of Education Providers that are providing FCP training.

A suitable supervisor is still required to support work place based assessments as part of stage 2. This can be someone who has completed the roadmap supervisors course or someone who has suitable supervision training for your area of practice.

Taught Module Route

NHS England has funded places available for eligible FCPs with eight Education Providers. All providers are delivering Stages 1 and 2 and can offer places to eligible FCPs across England, regardless of the region they are working within.

All FCP trainees will still require a suitable supervisor in practice and those who have completed the roadmap supervisor training will be very well placed to fulfil that role.