The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Karen Middleton profile

Karen Middleton CBE joined the CSP as chief executive in February 2014 from NHS England (formerly the Department of Health). 

File 121820In her last post, which she held for almost seven years, Karen was chief health professions officer, leading more than 80,000 physiotherapists and other allied health professionals in the NHS and other sectors.

Among other achievements in her former role, Karen led and completed a number of self-referral pilots for musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy. This work helped to pave the way for patient self-referral to become the optimum route into allied health profession services. She also led the work to enable physiotherapist and podiatrists to independently prescribe.

Karen is, of course, no stranger to the Society. She graduated in physiotherapy in London in the mid-1980s and has been a CSP member for almost 30 years. Indeed, she was a CSP steward for six years earlier in her career, actively representing the interests of physiotherapy staff in the NHS while working as a physiotherapist herself.

Since graduating, Karen has worked in a wide variety of clinical and managerial roles. She initially specialised in MSK before moving into rehabilitation and then becoming associate director of primary care in Tower Hamlets, east London in 1999, when she managed the community nursing workforce. From there she moved to the London Directorate for Health and Social Care as a primary care development manager. In 2003 she joined the Department of Health as allied health professions advisor before being appointed as chief health professions officer four years later.

Karen has raised the profile of physiotherapists and other allied health professionals by speaking at a range of national and international events. She led a range of programmes that modernised the careers of allied health professionals, using a competency-based approach to workforce development. In 2013, Karen was made a CSP Fellow for advancing the physiotherapy profession, developing leadership capacity and promoting professionalism, through her role as chief allied health professions officer at NHS England.

Karen is also a Fellow of the Society of Orthopaedic Medicine, and, in that capacity, has taught physiotherapists and GPs on a national and international basis. She gained an MA in consultation and the organisation: a psychoanalytical approach in 2006. Driven by a desire to improve patient care, Karen is convinced that physio staff are the 'rehabilitationists' of healthcare - skilled and influential practitioners who have a mission both to add 'life to years' and 'years to life'.

Earlier this year Karen was made visiting professor at Leeds Metropolitan University in the faculty of health and social sciences. She is the CSP's first woman chief executive, and also the first to be a member of the physiotherapy profession. The CSP has over 53,000 members.


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