This was the question posed at the CSP London Network meeting on Monday evening. The CSP networks are a great place for members to share experiences and talk about how it feels, at the moment, to be in physiotherapy. The networks also provide valuable intelligence for CSP Council members and senior staff at Bedford Row.
Representatives from the NHS, the private sector, higher education, students, managers and stewards gathered around the network table. The situation in London, in terms of being required to do more for less, and the freezing of posts, is being replicated around the country.
This affects band 5 in particular, because this group are traditionally more mobile and seek to further their career experience by moving on to new opportunities. Now there is uncertainty about who will commission services, and about what constraints there will be when it comes to physiotherapy to patients.
The advice from Claire Sullivan, Assistant Director of CSP’s Employment Relations and Union Services, is ‘know your commissioner’. This may not be clear at the moment, but try to find out who is making the decisions. Have regular contact with them, know when your contract is due to finish, and engage with GPs, both those known to you and those who you may not know at the moment.
To this end the CSP London Network has a number of strategies providing valuable collective information, enabling members to begin dialogue with potential commissioners. A standard template is to be produced, allowing members to report potentially wide-reaching issues such as down grading, service redesign, or changes to other professions like nursing which will impact on how physiotherapy is delivered.
The network is also planning a couple of training sessions on how to get to know and lobby GPs and local patient groups like LINk, so that the network can designate one week of intensive lobbying, where members collectively target these groups.
The network is a fantastic example of how members can collectively help themselves, support each other and provide vital information for the CSP to ensure that we can campaign effectively with real life examples.
Last week, CSP representatives were guests at the Dutch Physiotherapy Association’s annual conference. It was an opportunity to reflect on how it feels to be a UK physiotherapist. At the European World Physical Therapy confederation meeting on clinical guidelines, it was interesting to consider the development of the profession within Europe.
For many European countries, physiotherapy has become an autonomous profession. But for the majority of countries there is a real sense of frustration that physiotherapy is controlled by doctors, and that practice is restricted. Of course there is some fine education, research and clinical practice within Europe.
The standard of presentations and the overwhelming engagement of Dutch physiotherapists with their conference was fantastic.
The clinical guidelines project is an example of how working together on a common goal can have impact and will raise the profile of physiotherapy across Europe. The clinical guidelines on Parkinson’s disease have been developed with the member physiotherapy associations, and implementation is about to begin across the European region.
Meeting with European colleagues highlighted the many similarities that we share as a profession. But in these difficult times, it also reminded me of how we have developed as a profession and that our determination, collective action and common goals have ensured that physiotherapy in the UK has achieved a great deal.
To be autonomous practitioners who have established ourselves as independent of doctors is something we all hold dear. We must ensure for the sake of our patients that our voices are heard as we learn to work with the new ‘liberated’ health service.