The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Basket

View your shopping cart.

Decision day

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales go to the polls on 5 May. Sally Priestley quizzes the Parties on their physio policy

Next month, new governments will be elected on 5 May for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

It will be the fourth time since devolution that these elections have taken place, and health policy is, as ever, a key issue.

While the NHS reforms dominate debate in England, voters in the devolved countries will have a chance to determine how the health service is run in their country.

The CSP has been campaigning to make sure those standing for election in each country understand the issues affecting the physiotherapy profession there.

Frontline wanted to make sure that voters know what the major parties in each of the devolved nations have to say about health policy, and the position of physiotherapy within it.

We posed a series of key questions to the major political parties in the devolved nations, and the answers are summarised here.

The full transcripts of all the answers provided by the political parties we approached are also available on the CSP website.

Northern Ireland

On 5 May voters in Northern Ireland will go to the polls to elect a new Stormont assembly.

At the last election, in 2007, the Democratic Unionist Party won the most seats in the power-sharing assembly, taking eight more than Sinn Fein.

In its campaigning to candidates standing to be Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), the CSP is calling for the next Northern Ireland Executive to:

  • ensure physiotherapy services are maintained during these harsh economic times
  • provide support for business and industry, promoting access to fast track occupational physiotherapy to help keep people ‘fit for work’
  • progress self-referral to physiotherapy services
  • prioritise patients with COPD to access pulmonary rehabilitation
  •  ensure health boards develop early supported discharge services for people who have had a stroke.


You can download the ‘Physiotherapy Works’ briefing for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections from the CSP website.

What will your party do to ensure that all people in Northern Ireland continue to have access to well resourced, efficient, effective physiotherapy services?

Democratic Unionist Party

The DUP will:

  • guarantee real-terms increases in health funding, increase efficiency and seek to improve productivity
  • increase clinician involvement in local commissioning organisations
  • publish an AHP strategy
  • support a self-referral scheme.

Alliance

Alliance supports a properly resourced NHS, including ready access to physiotherapy services. There are also some major reforms that can free up resources for better investment in frontline services. This includes a stronger emphasis on public health issues, prevention and early intervention, where physiotherapy services play a major role.

Social, Democratic and Labour Party

The SDLP has budgetary proposals to raise and save £4 billion which would be used to create jobs and protect frontline services. The SDLP voted against the recent Northern Ireland budget because, without utilising the additional revenue-raising measures we proposed, the budget will negatively impact on the quality of frontline services.

In harsh economic times, what will your party do to ensure frontline patient services are maintained and physiotherapist numbers are not reduced?

DUP

The DUP will:

  • ensure services are well resourced
  • reconfigure provision to shift more care into the community
  • promote multi-disciplinary team-working and prioritise preventative management
  • restore the funding originally earmarked for our stroke strategy.

Alliance

There is a danger of the wagons being drawn around acute services at the expense of other services.

It is important to make the argument that the work physiotherapists can do to avoid and minimise the impact of conditions will have a considerable economic spin-off in terms of reduced short and long-term sick leave within the workforce.

SDLP

The SDLP is the only party to have seriously assessed opportunities for improved care and financial savings within the health service.

The next health minister must take control of waiting times. And there are still changes that can be made to reduce waste. For example, there are a number of areas of non-frontline service delivery where administrative savings could be found.

Sinn Fein and the Ulster Unionist Party were asked to provide answers to Frontline’s questions, but they did not respond in time for our print deadline.

Scotland

On 5 May people in Scotland will elect 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), one for each of the 73 parliamentary constituencies and a further seven in each of the eight ‘additional member’ regions.

In the 2007 elections the Scottish National Party was the largest party and formed a minority government. There have been substantial boundary changes since the last elections, with more than half the constituencies re-drawn and one in six voters now in a different seat to four years ago.

In its campaigning to candidates standing to be MSPs, the CSP is calling on the next Scottish government to:

  • support physiotherapy services and recognise that cuts to capacity will result in higher costs to the health service elsewhere
  • promote access to fast-track occupational physiotherapy to help keep people ‘fit for work’
  • progress self-referral to physiotherapy services
  • provide sufficient skilled physiotherapists in primary and secondary care
  • prioritise patients with COPD to access pulmonary rehabilitation
  • ensure health boards develop early supported discharge services for stroke survivors.


You can download the ‘Physiotherapy Works’ briefing for the Scottish Parliament elections from the CSP website.

What will your party do to ensure all people in Scotland have access to well resourced, efficient, effective physiotherapy services?

Scottish Conservatives

NHS services will have to shift their focus onto the delivery of care in the community. Whether it is the older person making the transition from hospital to a care home or a disabled person looking to live independently in their own home, physiotherapists can help bring the NHS into the community and, increasingly, to the patient’s own front door.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats want to help more people get better care in their home or local community through closer working between health and care staff at a local level.  Community physiotherapists will play a big role in this shift to get people out of hospital.

Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour is aware of the important role that physiotherapists play in the recovery and health and well-being of patients throughout Scotland.  We want to ensure that the NHS has the right mix of skills to meet the needs of patients.

Scottish National Party

We are increasing investment in the NHS by £1 billion over the next parliament. While there is pressure on physiotherapy services, by increasing funding for the NHS the SNP will help Scotland’s physio services through the tough times ahead.

Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green Party recognises that physiotherapy is vital in both helping people stay fit and healthy, and crucial to helping people back
to full health either after an injury, stroke or other health matter. 

One of the top priorities for the Scottish Greens in the NHS is to improve and retain our local community health services to ensure they are responsive to the needs and well-being of patients.  

The Scottish Green Party is the only political party that will stand up against the cuts to public services and remain committed to progressive taxation in order to pay for this. 

In harsh economic times, what will your party do to ensure patient services are maintained and physiotherapist numbers are not reduced?

Scottish Conservatives

We have pledged to protect health spending in Scotland. Conservatives believe that we should measure the NHS by outcomes, not inputs, and that by doing things differently we can find money to be reinvested in front-line services and ensure that services such as physiotherapy are maintained.

We pledge to cut top management costs in the NHS by 30% over the next four years, and we will reinvest every penny of that money in enhancing localised frontline services.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

We can make savings by running services more efficiently and cutting out waste in the NHS.  We would save £30 million by ending consultants’ bonuses and we’d tackle the spiralling drugs bill and cut out waste and duplication right across the NHS, protecting frontline services.

Scottish Labour

Scottish Labour will support the NHS in the face of unprecedented financial pressures, protecting the NHS budget in Scotland. In particular, we will prioritise the protection of NHS jobs, ensuring that there are no compulsory redundancies for staff.

Our commitment to driving down costs will focus on the elimination of waste, so that we can protect jobs and patient care on the frontline. Every pound of efficiency savings generated by the NHS will stay in the NHS.

Scottish National Party

The SNP will protect the health budget in real terms, despite the £1.3 billion cut to the Scottish budget from Westminster. This will allow us to continue with our policy of no compulsory redundancies for all NHS staff.

The SNP is also the only major political party in Scotland which is unequivocal in its opposition to the creeping privatisation of our health service. At all times, we want AHPs – and everyone else in the health service – to be concerned solely with giving the best care, not worried about private profit.

Scottish Green Party

The Scottish Green Party believes in an NHS that is free at the point of use and publicly funded. We will vigorously oppose the fundamental attack on the principles of the welfare state, by the UK government, that is impacting on Scottish services.

We would introduce fair and progressive taxation to raise significant additional funds that can be spent on national priorities such as our
national health service.  In turn, this would protect NHS physiotherapy staff in Scotland from unnecessary job losses.

Wales

The National Assembly for Wales elections require people in Wales to vote twice.

Firstly to elect 40 Welsh Assembly Members (AMs), one for each of the parliamentary constituencies, and secondly to elect four AMs in each of the five ‘additional member’ regions.

Following the last election in 2007, Labour formed a coalition government with Plaid Cymru.

The new assembly takes on extra responsibilities this year, with more law-making powers in 20 areas devolved from Westminster, including health.

This comes after voters supported increased powers for the Welsh Assembly in a referendum in March.

In its campaigning to candidates standing to be AMs, the CSP is calling for the next Welsh Assembly Government to:

  • ensure physiotherapy services are   maintained during these harsh economic  times
  • provide support for business and industry, promoting access to fast track occupational physiotherapy to help keep people ‘fit for work’
  • progress self-referral to physiotherapy services
  • prioritise patients with COPD to access pulmonary rehabilitation
  • ensure health boards develop early supported discharge services for stroke survivors.


You can download a copy of the ‘Ffisiotherapi ar waith’/ ‘Physiotherapy works’ briefing for the National Assembly for
Wales Elections at http://www.csp.org.uk/documents/ffisiotherapi-ar-waith-physiotherapy-works-wales

What will your party do to ensure all people in Wales have access to well resourced, efficient, effective physiotherapy services?

Welsh Liberal Democrats

We believe we can keep people out of hospitals by introducing self-referral to health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists. We will ensure that all our commitments are fully resourced by tackling the huge inefficiencies that currently exist in the NHS.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru believes that every member of our community is entitled to social and economic inclusion. Plaid Cymru in government will establish multi-professional, community-based teams, including physiotherapists, to work alongside other health professionals, support services and social care workers.

Welsh Conservatives

Welsh Conservatives have pledged to protect health expenditure in real terms each and every year for the next four years. In stark contrast, the Welsh Assembly government’s budget unveiled cuts to the health and social services budget of almost £1 billion. However, we are also aware that this money must be accompanied by reform.

Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour has invested in the whole health team to ensure the appropriate advice, support and interventions are available. In the coming years we will continue to rebalance services to provide more care in the community setting and the holistic health team will be central to this approach.

What will your party be doing to demonstrate that the NHS workforce is more than just doctors and nurses?

Welsh Liberal Democrats

The NHS needs a mix of different approaches to treating people in Wales. In some cases, it is far more appropriate for patients to visit a physiotherapist, a community pharmacy or a nurse-led walk-in centre, rather than the traditional GP surgery.

Plaid Cymru

We believe that excellent community-based services are essential to continued support for patients and families; will speed up hospital discharges, provide rehabilitation in people’s own homes, and will reduce hospital re-admissions.

We believe that it is the right of everybody in Wales to be assessed and treated by a specialist member of a professional support team, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.

Welsh Conservatives

Our manifesto outlines a number of policies, designed to make greater use of the expertise of therapists, optometrists, and community pharmacies in Wales.

We have also pledged to boost access to cardiac rehabilitation programmes, courses for diabetes patients, and multidisciplinary teams to aid recovery from stroke.

We have also pledged to pilot an NHS walk-in centre, to relieve pressures on A&E services, and provide patients with fast, convenient access to therapists and nurses in the community.

Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour’s actions in government here in Wales show we value the contribution of the whole health team including AHPs. Our social partnership approach builds upon our relationship with trade unions and other health organisations for the benefit of patients.

Links

Comments are visible to CSP members only.

Please Login to read comments and to add your own or register if you have not yet done so.

Article Information

Author(s)

Sally Priestley

Issue date

20 April 2011

Volume number

17

Issue number

7
Back to top