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Patients Association reports under-resourced NHS physio services

19 February 2015 - 2:59pm

A report by the Patients Association shows that some short-staffed physiotherapy services are affecting care in the NHS in England.

Staffing shortfalls have resulted in poor patient experience

Staffing shortfalls have resulted in poor patient experience

The report Why our NHS should listen and be human, published on 15 February, says the findings reveal a huge gap between the commitments set out in the NHS constitution and the reality of being a patient in the health and social care system.

Among the ‘patient stories’ in the report is that of 68 year-old Peter Woolliscroft. He describes ‘a recent personal experience’ in an unnamed hospital when the physiotherapy team was charged with enabling him to be sufficiently mobile to be discharged.

‘However, the team was also short staffed. I saw a physiotherapist for 30 minutes every couple of days which was not enough to make a difference,’ says Mr Woolliscroft.

‘The physiotherapists assumed that the health care assistants would help me to practise the exercises, but this simply did not happen.’

The report includes the story of Daniel Wragg written by his daughter Joanna Wragg. He was admitted to Whipps Cross hospital in London with choking symptoms after eating a sandwich. After nine months within the NHS he had not yet been able to return home.

His stay has included care at St Margaret’s rehabilitation unit in Epping for what Mr Wragg’s family believed would be more intensive and all-round rehabilitation care.

‘While we were in St. Margaret's my father's mobility went backwards due to them not having a qualified physiotherapist,’ writes Ms Wragg.

‘For the first six weeks that he was in their care he only got out of bed once or twice a week due to the low staffing levels overall on the ward and lack of compassion or understanding to his individual needs.’

The report presents findings collected from focus groups, ‘listening events’ and surveys in 2014, and analysis of data from the association’s national helpline.

Natalie Beswetherick, the CSP’s director of practice and development, said she was extremely disappointed that staffing shortfalls had resulted in a poor experience for these inpatients.

‘We know that physiotherapy is both clinically and cost effective in providing rehabilitation to maximise function and mobility.

‘Therefore we all need to make the case for physiotherapy at every opportunity so patients report a positive experience of physiotherapy.’

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