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Physio13: Rehab's time has come, says Middleton

11 October 2013 - 6:20pm

The huge significance of rehabilitation as a way of saving the NHS money as well as improving people's lives took centre stage at a CSP conference session on Friday afternoon.

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Karen Middleton, alllied health professions lead at the Department of Health in England - photo © Simon Hadley

'The time of austerity that we have now gives us a real opportunity to show we can lead the way,' said Karen Middleton, alllied health professions lead at the Department of Health in England, and soon to be chief executive of the CSP.

'There has never been a better moment, with the government keen to get people back to work and reduce welfare benefits,' she said.

She outlined some of the difficulties faced in England in 2011, such as 1.2 million years of life lost by people with treatable conditions and a million avoidable emergency hospital admissions. Additionally, 90,000 people aged over 65 were admitted to hospital from their own homes, but ended up in a care home.

Alongside her on the platform were representatives of health departments not just in England but from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales too. All of them were facing the same sorts of issues and seeking solutions with rehabilitation high on the policy agenda.

John Etherington, a consultant in rheumatology and rehabilitation medicine and national clinical director for rehabilitation, saw it as promoting health, wellbeing and independence. 'We are trying to deliver tax payers,' he said. 'We want to help people who want to get on with their lives.'

Front load the cash

More money needed to go into the stages of a person's care after their initial hospital admission, to load more of the cash towards rehabilitation he suggested.

Scotland, meanwhile, was changing the way it delivered its musculoskeletal service to ensure a more appropriate provision and to reduce the number - and cost - of falls, which cost the government £470 million last year alone.

Northern Ireland is also undergoing change, with the 'Transforming your care' agenda planning to bring more services out of hospital and into the community. 'If we don't do it, some of the other professional groups might do it for us,' warned Hazel Winning lead allied health professions advisor for Northern Ireland.

And in Wales, where they are struggling to recruit enough doctors, it provides an opportunity to develop the role of allied health professionals, said Alison Strode, therapy advisor for Wales.

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