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Karen Middleton calls for action to stop physiotherapy ‘sleepwalking into obscurity’

10 October 2014 - 10:34am

Every physiotherapist must act to ensure a future for the profession, Karen Middleton told more than 1,000 delegates on the opening day of the Physiotherapy UK 2014 conference.

Video: Karen Middleton's Founders Lecture, which is also available on the Physiotherapy UK webpage

‘In one sense there couldn’t be a better time for our profession,’ the CSP’s chief executive said in her Founders Lecture.

Among other things, physios can reverse injury, enable people to live with long-term conditions, integrate health and social care and help people back into work.

‘And we’re very good value,’ she told delegates in Birmingham today.


Video: Karen Middleton emphasises the importance of individual development, highlighting Steven Sonsinio's questions as an aid to reflection and progress

But she warned there is no guarantee of a rosy future: ‘My greatest fear is that this profession will sleep walk into obscurity – that is that you and I allow our profession to wither and die.’

Signs of decline are already visible, she said. These include the lack of student training places, the fact that only people who pay can routinely self-refer,  and the controversy over physical contact with patients.

‘And, my personal bugbear, we have hard-earned clinical autonomy, so how dare commissioners and planners decide how many times we see a patient, or whether we treat or just give advice,’ she said.

File 135135Delegates gave Ms Middleton a standing ovation. Photo: Simon Hadley

Every CSP member can tackle the issues facing the profession, as well as embracing innovations and diversity, she told delegates.

Ms Middleton concluded: ‘My commitment to you is that I will do my very best to ensure our profession continues to transform lives and to empower people to live as independently as possible.’

Delegates gave Ms Middleton a standing ovation.

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