Patients suffering with back pain and other musculoskeletal problems can now receive speedy advice from a physiotherapist at two GP practices in Rhondda.
The physios are holding sessions in surgeries at Porth Farm and Tylorstown as part of a six months trial in the area.
If the system works well for patients, it could be adopted by other practices across Rhondda.
Physiotherapist Ben Searle said: “Patients benefit from early intervention. We can see them either on the same day or soon afterwards.
“Back pain is a major part of our workload. Normally, we can give advice on exercises which can help to tackle the problem.
“The patients can be re-assured by finding out that their pain is not something too serious and is something that can be dealt with over a period of time.
“We have seen dozens of patients during the course of the trial and the vast majority can be helped here in the surgery.
“If there are any indications of a more serious underlying medical or neurological problem, we can refer them for further investigations.”
Karen Shepperd, practice manager at Porth Farm, said: “Patients can book an assessment with a physiotherapist without seeing a GP.
“It makes little sense for patients to see a GP when the physiotherapist they are likely to be referred to could assess and diagnose them in the first instance. This will allow for more GP appointments to be freed up.
“Offering that direct access allows for an earlier assessment and ensures patients with the most urgent needs are treated sooner and more effectively.
“So far it is proving very popular with our patients.”
The outcome of the pilots will be assessed in June by other practices in Rhondda to decide whether they would benefit from a similar service.