COVID-19, pandemics and your role as a MSK Physiotherapist within the NHS


This is an excerpt from our newly-updated 2020 Band 6 MSK Preparation Pack for junior physiotherapists.


As of March 2020 – data visualisation group ‘Information is Beautiful’ reports that the COVID-19 ‘Corona’ virus has been mentioned more than 2.1 billion times in the media – compared to HIV 69.5 million and SARS 66.3 million.

These are unprecedented times. We are living in a new area of information sharing and our roles as health care professionals will therefore also evolve. We need to adapt and learn from those situations so we can anticipate the ones we may face in the future.

The corona virus is an example of a current pandemic. It is not unreasonable to think that, due to the global financial strains a pandemic puts a country under, we may experience further disruptions on a national scale. Our healthcare system and its workers need to be prepared for it, and it starts by understanding our role within it.


Some basic information

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that contain strains that potentially deadly to mammals and birds. In humans they spread predominantly from fluid droplets in the air shared by infected animals. The current most notable strain – SARS-CoV-2 which is responsible for COVID-19, along with SARS and Middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS) can cause death in humans.

Coronaviruses were first described in the 1960’s – the term ‘corona’ refers to a particular shape of a protein in that projects from the envelope surrounding the particle (corona = crown). It is not related to the popular Mexican beer which as of this moment we are pleased to announce after an initial drop have now picked back up and have not seen any negative impact on overall sales!

The search for the source of the COVID-19 infection is still underway, as of March 2020 bats are the prime suspect as the virus has a 96% similarity to a bat coronavirus. The primary symptoms affect the gastrointestinal tracts and upper respiratory systems. Symptoms often appear within 2-14 days after exposure. There is currently no heard immunity or vaccination against COVID-19. 


As a physiotherapist your role in the hospital can be broken down into ‘internal’ and ‘external’ considerations.


  • Personal protective equipment- particularly the use of gloves and masks
  • Hand hygiene – regular and frequent – 20 seconds at least – using alcohol gel frequently after and before seeing every patient, wiping surfaces down before and after every patient encounter
  • Screening patients before their visit - when possible phone your patient and ask them whether they present with any of the symptoms, have been in contact with anyone diagnosed with covid19 or if they have recently returned from a high risk area
  • Triaging patients within the clinic – being vigilant about those who attend who appear symptomatic- protecting yourself and your colleagues – encouraging patients to not attend the next appointment if they develop symptoms
  • Bag your uniform and wash it.
  • If you are infected, stay home!


  • Thinking of your team – monitor junior staff and student behaviour, are they washing their hands and using PPE
  • Liaising with managers and senior staff for constant updates
  • Monitor your patients for any signs of symptoms and keeping a mini audit of
  • If you or a colleague are asked to help on the ward, ask about training first! Especially if you have not been on the ward ever or for a long time, and if you are not confident treating acutely-ill patients. You could do more harm than good, to your and your patients
  • Assisting cleaners / support staff in wiping down non-clinical surfaces too, keeping all areas clean and tidy

If you have any doubt, make sure to follow the advice given by your employer and public health agencies. In fact, the CSP encourages that any queries, specifically clinical ones, should be discussed locally with your employer, rather than contacting them.


These are unprecedented and unpredictable times but Physiotherapists and AHPs have a crucial role to play across the NHS in the next few months, especially in supporting our Nurses and Medics. Make sure you understand where you fit in and how you can help out as you will have the opportunity to contribute strongly to the care that is delivered.

Stay safe and healthy!


Some useful resources for you and your patients


Find out more about your role as a future Band 6 MSK Physiotherapist in your organisation in our Band 6 MSK Preparation Pack.



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QualifiedPhysio Band 6 MSK Interview Pack 2020

Band 6 / Senior MSK interview preparation pack

Our Band 6 / Senior MSK pack is designed for experienced Band 5 Physios applying for senior positions within MSK practice. It includes interview questions and answers, key resources and top tips for the job, amongst others.


Check out all our available interview preparation packs here.

One-to-one interview preparation & career advice sessions

Bespoke guidance when you need it the most. If you feel like you need to talk face-to-face to one of our staff about your career plans, interviews, or anything else physio-related, we offer personalised skype calls and appointments with our Specialist Physios. This can take the format of mock interviews to help you prepare for your upcoming interview.