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Physios could make more of an impact

Physiotherapists could do more to show how they can make key health reforms work, according to the government's top allied health professions adviser.

Karen Middleton, in her first interview with Frontline since taking up the post of chief health professions officer for England on 1 March, signalled four main areas of opportunity for physiotherapists.

She highlighted the 18-week waiting times target, initiatives in public health and health promotion, plus policies geared around long-term conditions and value for money.

'I would like to see physios leading some of the developments more,' she said.

Ms Middleton said it was clear physiotherapists made a 'substantial contribution' towards reducing waiting times, preventing hospital admissions and helping people to live independent lives.

She said there were countless examples of physios offering cost-effective services, such as self-referral schemes.

But she believed practitioners could help to shift the public mindset around the healthy lifestyle agenda.

'How do we motivate the public to take more responsibility for their health? I think that's where physios need to start pushing more.'

Ms Middleton praised the profession and the CSP for advancing the cause of evidence-based treatments in recent years.

But she added: 'I would like to see more evidence of what's happening in relation to the reform agenda, what AHPs are doing and how it has worked.'

She said physios needed to take care in explaining to commissioners how they can add value to services, by stressing their impact on patients and their effectiveness in teams.

'One of the dangers, I think, about trying to influence commissioners is using the wrong language.'

She added: 'You convey the message by talking about, for example, services for older people or services for children, rather than saying what you need is more physios.

'Commissioners say that groups lobbying for their own individual profession is not necessarily helpful.' JMatthew Limb

FURTHER INFORMATION

The full interview will appear in the 2 May issue of Frontline

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