The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Get going with public health

Public health is a core priority for UK governments and presents huge opportunities for the physiotherapy profession.

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The UK's Faculty of Public Health defines public health as:
'The science and art of promoting and protecting health and well-being, preventing ill health and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society.'

Modern healthcare policy is focused on the promotion of health and wellbeing and the prevention of ill health. This public health approach, which replaces a system primarily focused on managing ill health, is now absolutely central to UK health and social care policy, attracting significant financial investment.

Public health falls into three main areas:

  1. health improvement
  2. health protection
  3. improving services.

With unique skills, physiotherapy has an invaluable contribution to make in each of these areas, creating huge opportunities for the profession. For these to be realised, members must understand public health and consider:

  • how they design their services
  • how they market their services to patients and local decision makers
  • potential non-NHS funding opportunities
  • their own physiotherapy practice.

What the CSP is doing

The CSP is currently focusing on four key strands:

  1. children ready for school/early years
  2. making every contact count (including obesity)
  3. improving health for older adults
  4. emotional wellbeing

Public health spans across a range of different areas, and whilst these are a focus at present, there are other areas of work that the CSP is undertaking that comes under the umbrella of public health.

What physio staff can do

  1. Register on the iCSP Public Health iCSP network, to receive regular policy, events and publications updates
  2. Use the World Health Professions Alliance Health Improvement Card. This simple tool informs individuals on positive behaviour and lifestyle changes to avoid chronic or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and empowers them to work with their health professional to establish personal health goals and to track their progress.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the resources on the public health pages of this website for information on how you can integrate public health into your everyday clinical practice

Key messages

  • As health professionals, physiotherapy staff have a responsibility to promote good health to every patient they see.
  • Physiotherapy staff must promote good health and market their ability to do so to other clinical professionals and local decision makers.
  • Physiotherapists are able to utilise their knowledge of the causes and processes of disease to educate people on how to avoid them.
  • Physiotherapy staff can think innovatively on how to incorporate prevention and health promotion into every day clinical practice.
  • Physiotherapists are experts in movement and can enable patients to be physically active to promote good health, not just a return to function, in a way that is safe and appropriate for them.
  • Physical activity helps prevent and treat over 20 conditions and diseases such as obesity, heart disease, osteoarthritis, cancer and depression.

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