Defining Priority Access in Community Physiotherapy Services


Clients presenting for the management of severe and acute (<1 week) pain:

  • radicular pain +/- neurological symptoms; wry neck; acute LBP
  • significant functional impairment (i.e. off work and significant reduction in ADL)

Difficulties with mobility requiring immediate assessment and management where there is a risk of hospital admission, emergency department presentation and/or risk to safety of the client/carers.

Subacute inpatient clients in rural health beds who meet the above criteria


Clients presenting with acute (1-4 weeks) presentations unlikely to deteriorate without physiotherapy intervention prior to 10 days:

  • musculoskeletal injuries, acute spinal pain and vestibular conditions
  • clients with an increased risk of developing chronic pain; i.e. yellow flag indicators on referral

Discharged from hospital following surgical procedure (joint replacement, tendon repairs) as per clinical pathway / referral request

Post removal of plaster or brace.

Falls risk assessment with a history of a fall in the last 4 weeks.

Acute exacerbation and/ or infection of a respiratory condition

Physiotherapy transfer from other services as per referral request e.g. CRU, RHH, Private


Subacute spinal pain or musculoskeletal injury present for 4-12 weeks and unlikely to deteriorate without intervention sooner

Spinal or musculoskeletal condition referred from screening clinics (i.e. SAC, POSI, PPS PT).

Post-surgical review as directed by clinical pathway/referral request e.g. neurosurgical and orthopaedic surgery.

Falls risk assessment with a history of fall in the last 6-12 months.


Chronic musculoskeletal and spinal pain (present for greater than 12 weeks)

Review of home exercise programme.

Assessment for hydrotherapy for chronic conditions

Physiotherapy functional review for longstanding and/or lifelong conditions