Referral system under fire from Australian association

The Australian Physiotherapy Association has called on the Australian government to change its funding systems so that the country’s most highly qualified physiotherapists (Fellows of the Australian College of Physiotherapists) can refer directly to medical specialists.

“We are concerned that these most highly qualified members of the physiotherapy profession are prevented from making a greater contribution to the health of Australians because of bureaucratic intransigence regarding their scope of practice,” said Pat Maher, APA President.

He said the current referral system was “a costly mess that requires patients to repeatedly traipse back to their GP for referrals their physiotherapist is qualified to write. This creates waste in the health system and is a disincentive to patients in addressing their health concerns before they become acute and end up in an overcrowded Emergency Department.”

The APA submission to the Australian government, part of a larger response to national health reform proposals, calls for the removal of funding barriers to physiotherapists referring to diagnostic ultrasound, spinal and peripheral x-rays.

The full submission is available at