CSP response to Labour 'fit for the future' health mission: 'be fit for the present'

CSP health informatics lead Euan McComiskie comments on the Labour Party’s health mission statement announced last week.

by euanmccomiskie

The CSP welcomes the Labour health mission in which party leader Keir Starmer detailed the desire to lead a tech revolution in the NHS In England including increased use of the NHS App, patient-focussed booking of appointments, fully digital health records, use of AI, genomics, incentives for innovation, and more.

While we welcome the intention to use digital technology to drive improvement in healthcare provision, there has been a growing workforce of clinical and technical staff trying to do this for a number of years already with varying levels of success.

Members of the physiotherapy profession interested and/or involved in any aspect of technology are in a community of practice called the Digital and Informatics Physiotherapy Group (DIPG), facilitated by the CSP.

The DIPG have worked with the CSP to create a number of information pages on the CSP website which cover a number of the topics raised in the Labour health mission.

The CSP published the Physiotherapy Health Informatics Strategy (PHIS) which gives a vision for what informatics-enabled physiotherapy could look like.

The CSP is also working with NHS England to produce an introduction to informatics course for all allied health professions in the UK which should launch later this year.

The last part of the PHIS is around the practical application of informatics, showing how the knowledge can be applied by members in their practice as they strive towards the vision of the strategy. You can expect more announcements imminently with more detail on the education element of the strategy.

While we welcome the ambition of the Labour health mission and support the inclusion of digital technology as part of improving healthcare, we also want to temper expectations and recognise those already working hard to achieve existing ambitions.

When used appropriately technology can be part of the solution to a number of today’s health challenges.

When used well it can actively include members of the public but equally, when used badly, it can actively exclude people.

We need to be careful to use it appropriately and optimally to have the most positive impact on our services.

In my lifetime, I can’t see technology replacing a physiotherapist. However, a technology-enabled physio will absolutely replace one who is not. It is up to CSP members to decide which side of that equation they wish to practice.

The resources that the CSP has in the digital physiotherapy section of the website can help them to practice on the right side.

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