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Northern Ireland ‘cancels’ self-referral to physiotherapy

17 December 2014 - 12:55pm

Tom Sullivan has said the physiotherapy profession in Northern Ireland is ‘shocked and dismayed’ at a decision not to go ahead with a self-referral pilot.

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The health department has been asked to explain why the self-referral pilot was aborted

The public affairs and policy manager for the CSP in Northern Ireland said this means that it will remain the only part of the UK where self-referral to physiotherapy is unavailable to patients.

A pilot self-referral service was due to begin on 1 April 2014 at the South Eastern health and social care trust. The CSP has campaigned for self-referral to physiotherapy in Northern Ireland since 2009 and had expected that the service would be available in all regions by 2015.

But in a statement issued to Frontline on 16 December, a spokesperson for the department for health and social services said: ‘The health and social care board is working with providers to address increasing waiting times for physiotherapy and other allied health profession services.

‘When the current waiting time challenge has been addressed, the board has indicated that it will seek to immediately introduce the proposed self-referral arrangements for physiotherapy.’

However, Mr Sullivan said: ‘The answer confirms the view of the CSP that this initiative has effectively been cancelled. The reason given for this decision regarding current waiting times is short-sighted and ill-conceived.’

He explained that the introduction of self-referral to physiotherapy is consistent with the aims and objectives of Transforming Your Care. This is the Northern Ireland government’s agenda to make best use of resources, and to focus on prevention and earlier intervention.

Following a request from the CSP, the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Health Committee has asked the health department to explain why the self-referral pilot was aborted. The CSP also requested that the Health Committee hold a formal evidence hearing so that the CSP can discuss self-referral and waiting times for physiotherapy.

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