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Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working. The Royal College of Occupational Therapy adopted the key principle of best fit support, getting the right support, from the right person, at the right time, to support people to manage their health and social care needs. 

 Occupational Therapists within primary care could help:  

  • Frail, older people: vulnerable people who do not require secondary services, but are at high risk of needing increased levels of support in the future (including possible hospital inpatient admission) if a proactive approach is not taken 

  • Those who are off work: seeking fit notes or return to work support 

  • Adults with mental health needs: people that need more than Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), but not requiring secondary care or a psychiatrist. 

For further information about First Contact Practitioner Occupational Therapists see here Royal College of Occupational Therapists - Championing occupational therapy ( 

Career pathway

To practise as an occupational therapist, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). To register with the HCPC, you first need to successfully complete approved degree-level training in occupational therapy. 

You can train through an approved full-time or part-time pre-registration university course in occupational therapy or a degree apprenticeship in occupational therapy. 

For the full-time route this is usually a BSc (Hons). Courses take three or four years. 

There are also part-time/in-service courses if you are working in a relevant senior occupational therapy support role and your employer is willing to support you. 

Courses differ but all involve a lot of practical work with patients. 


  • Health Education England Primary care FCP training must be completed as the minimum threshold for entry to primary care and be supported by appropriate governance and indemnity.

  • Health Education England primary care FCP training can begin 3-5 years after the completion of the postgraduate degree

Supervision for Occupational Therapists in Primary Care

Appropriate supervision will be required for all occupational therapists working in Primary Care.

Existing GP Educational supervisors are able to supervise occupational therapists undertaking FCP and AP roles and do not need to attend additional training.

GPs who have completed the First Contact Practitioner Supervisor Development course can provide clinical supervision to occupational therapist undertaking FCP and AP roles.

Benefits to patients, PCNs and the wider NHS

Benefits to patients

  • Improves the individual patient’s independence

  • Improves specific self-care skills

  • Therapists provide compensatory techniques to improve an individual’s ability to complete self-care tasks following a change in functional abilities

  • Improve strength and endurance for functional tasks

  • Can work on functional cognition and visual deficits with the therapist

  • Benefit from caregiver training from the therapists

  • Patients receive expert advice in adaptive equipment and home modifications, such as, through home evaluations.

Benefits to PCN’s

  • Can work as part of the multidisciplinary general practice team

  • Deliver more collaborative and coordinated selfcare and environmental adjustments advice alongside their colleagues to benefit patient care

  • Help to better manage the patient’s own selfcare, keep them well and reduce visits to the practice the patient may have otherwise needed to make.

Benefits to the wider NHS

  • Deliver health promotion initiatives to their local community

  • Can assist in reducing much more costly crisis interventions by helping patients maintain their health and wellbeing through better selfcare, patient independence and much needed environmental adjustments

  • Teach and inform the public and health professionals about occupational therapies to improve their health outcomes and ensure they live well

  • Work to ensure occupational therapy is included as a priority in on-going patient selfcare and condition management

Occupational Therapist: sample recruitment pack

Please use this sample recruitment pack and adapt to the requirements of your PCN.