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Bradford teams win double recognition

The profession is making its mark in Bradford, where physiotherapy staff have scooped two awards for excellence. Frontline joined the celebrations

Putting patients first is paying off in Bradford, where physiotherapy staff at one trust have been honoured with two awards in the past month. While the chronic pain management team at Bradford Hospitals foundation trust picked up a top-drawer regional award, physiotherapy services overall have been awarded a national Charter Mark. It is the second time the trust's physio department has gained the prestigious award, which recognises excellence in 'customer service delivery'.

This time the achievement also netted the team a letter of congratulations from prime minister Tony Blair, who said patient-centred care was crucial to improving the health service. 'This is not a standard that is easily achieved and it is a tribute to your organisation,' he said. 'Your achievement clearly demonstrates that customers' needs and aspirations genuinely form the basis for the design and delivery of the services you provide.' It's an approach which saw physiotherapists in the trust's chronic pain management team pair up with chaplaincy staff to help improve the hospital experience for Muslim patients. The resulting information leaflet won a West Yorkshire modernisation award.

Judges singled the team out for praise for their work to deliver services sensitive to the cultural and religious needs of the local South Asian community. Physios working on the project discovered that some of the treatments they had suggested in the past were not compatible with some Muslim beliefs. They also found that some Muslim expectations of treatment differed to what they actually offered, and that some patients think rehabilitation is unnecessary as they believe Allah will heal them.

Senior physiotherapist Gill Fletcher explained: 'Muslim chaplain Mohammad Arshad advised us that these beliefs were mainly driven by culture rather than religion - in fact, the religious teachings say that you should take measures to protect your health.' The two departments worked together to create the simple leaflet, which explains that Muslim patients are not compromising their religious beliefs by accepting treatment.

The GBP 1,000 prize money will be used within the department to have the leaflet's information put on CD or tape, so patients can listen to it in their chosen language. Patients for whom English is a second language often prefer to hear speech rather than read a leaflet, Ms Fletcher explained. 'We also hope to create training materials for staff and patients in the department, such as pictures of the prayer (Salah) positions which can be used to provide gentle exercises,' she added.

Bradford's physiotherapy department is one of the busiest in the north of England, caring for 34,000 new patients during the past year. Physiotherapists, therapy assistants and clerical staff provide a district-wide service, working in hospitals, in the community, with patients in their own homes, at GP practices and in schools.

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