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New law means new duties, Scots physio told

Physiotherapists in Scotland are being urged to make themselves aware of their responsibilities under new legislation that is aimed at protecting vulnerable adults.

Under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act, health professionals must report cases to their local authority where they know or believe that an adult is at risk from harm. Harm is defined broadly and includes physical and psychological elements, as well as omissions – such as carers withholding drugs or rehabilitation. Physiotherapists also have a duty to co-operate with councils in their inquiries.

The act, which came into force last October, has been welcomed by the CSP, but Elizabeth Hunter of the Scottish Board, who also sits on the Society’s professional practice committee, warned that it had implications.

‘For physiotherapists this is a good piece of legislation, because it covers a huge group of patients that physios have contact with – such as people with stroke or long-term debilitating conditions like multiple sclerosis,’ she said.

‘Previously if physios suspected that the patient was at risk of harm – for example, from a relative withholding care – it was a very vague area for them. The law makes it clear what they should do. ‘It’s important, however, that physiotherapists should make themselves aware of what the act means for them and find out what their local procedures are.’

She said that NHS boards were organising training and encouraged physiotherapists to attend. But she added: ‘I am concerned that those working in private practice or who are self-employed might not be aware of the legislation, so would advise them to ensure they find the information, as the law applies to them as well.’

The legislation adds to protection already in place under the Adults with Incapacity and Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Acts.

FURTHER INFORMATION

www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/health/care/vaunit/protectingva

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