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CSP calls on members to make the most of sickness guidance

NHS Employers has issued guidance on providing rapid access to treatment and rehabilitation for NHS staff.

It follows input from CSP officials about the importance of physiotherapy in getting employees back to work, as well as preventing sickness absence in the first place.

The guidance, aimed at NHS trust boards in England, recommends that NHS organisations should develop a policy that ensures rapid access to rehabilitation, phased return, and redeployment of employees.

CSP director of practice and development Natalie Beswetherick said: ‘This guidance presents a golden opportunity for CSP members at local level, wherever current provision is patchy, to argue for more investment in physiotherapy in occupational health.  

‘It ticks all the boxes: good for NHS staff, good for patients, good for taxpayers and good for the profession.’

Rehabilitation would mean giving staff direct access to ‘dedicated resources’, including physiotherapy.

When developing a rapid access policy, the guidance recommends that boards involve staff who will be providing the treatment ‘from the start’.

‘The CSP has been able to make sure that the contribution that physiotherapy can make to staff health and wellbeing is fully reflected in the new guidance,’ said Lesley Mercer, director of the society’s employment relations and union services function.

‘Working with our colleagues in the CSP practice and development function, we have been able to bring a joined-up approach to the initiative, using our contacts made on the NHS Social Partnership Forum.’

Ms Mercer is on the steering group of the forum, which is chaired by health minister Simon Burns and brings together NHS employers, trade unions and the Department of Health in England to discuss workforce issues.

The guidance also promotes the benefits of self-referral, a key campaigning priority of the CSP, she added.

Rapid access to treatment and rehabilitation for NHS staff, is available at: www.nhsemployers.org/HealthyWorkplaces


Sick Note

A self-referral MSK physiotherapy service for staff at one NHS trust has cut sickness days by more than 1000 and saved more than £60,000.

More than half the staff who used the physiotherapy service at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust said that using the physio service meant they didn’t take time off work when they previously would have.

The service was instigated by clinical specialist physiotherapist at the trust  Jonathan Sheppard, who provides the service single-handedly.

Staff can self-refer through the trust intranet, or by completing a paper form. Occupational health therapists at the trust refer to Mr Sheppard, GP physio referrals for trust staff are also passed to him and there is a Tuesday drop-in clinic.

More than 80 per cent of appointments are self-referred. Mr Sheppard said: ‘I was warned that self-referral would mean I would be inundated, but in fact it makes it much easier for people to manage their own conditions.

‘Because they know they can just come and see me if they need to, they don’t worry that they have to go through the hassle of making an appointment with their GP and then waiting for a referral.’

Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust in Shropshire introduced self-referral physio for staff in June 2010.

Sickness rates at the trust have since fallen from four per cent to 3.3 per cent, representing an annual saving of £77,000.

The trust introduced fast track stress management at the same time, so physiotherapy is not responsible for all the savings, but senior physiotherapist Mike Delahay said the number of sickness days being taken began to fall as soon as the self-referral scheme was introduced.

‘It’s a question of speed, really, the quicker we can begin treatment, the quicker people get better,’ he said.

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