The 2015 general election: Four key questions

Email your candidates before the general election to ask four key questions for physiotherapy.

The NHS is the hot topic for debate in the run up to the 2015 Westminster general election. CSP members know that physiotherapy provides a cost-effective solution to many of the big questions facing health and care services, in particular helping older people and those with long-term conditions.
The election is the ideal opportunity to make the case for physiotherapy to the people who want to represent us.
In all parts of the UK important decisions about services, such as the configuration of hospital or community health provision, are now made at a local level.

As a CSP member you can ask the four key questions below.

  1. How will my local health and care services reduce falls?
  2. How can we promote direct access and self-referral?
  3. How can we champion better NHS rehabilitation?
  4. How can we support fair pay for quality services?

1: How will my local health and care services reduce falls?

Every area should have a falls prevention plan

Across the UK, 1.2 million people each year end up in A&E due to a fall, costing the NHS £1.6 billion. For those who have a serious fall that results in a fracture, the consequences can be catastrophic.
Half of all those people who have a hip fracture have a long-term disability as a result. A third will also experience depression as a result of their fall.
The CSP believes every area should have a falls prevention plan. This needs to include how to identify those at risk of falling and how to ensure that all those at risk can be referred to physiotherapy as part of a falls prevention programme.
If everyone identified as being at risk of falling (for example struggling with a ‘timed up and go test’), was referred for physiotherapy, then an estimated 225,300 falls each year would be prevented and £331 million would be saved.
For every £1 spent on physio for older people at risk of falling, the NHS makes a net saving of 50p. In other words, for every £1 spent on physio for falls prevention the NHS doesn’t have to spend £1.50 on the cost of falls.
You can look up the number of falls which could be prevented and money to be saved in your area.

2: How can we promote direct access and self-referral?

Only 30 per cent of local health areas have self-referral

In some areas patients with musculoskeletal disorders can refer themselves for physiotherapy, while in other areas they still have to go through their GP. The latter is frustrating for the patient and puts an unnecessary burden on GP services.
Across the UK only about 30 per cent of local health areas have self-referral. There is evidence that patient self-referral to physiotherapy cuts GP appointments and is what patients want.
It has also been shown that introducing patient self-referral does not result in longer waiting times. While there may be an initial spike in demand, this soon settles down to the same level as a GP-referral service.
The CSP argues that patient self-referral pays for itself and puts patients in control. The MP for your area needs to know if constituents can self-refer for physio or not.
If there is no self-referral option for patients, then your MP can use their influence to help turn this around. 

3: How can we champion better NHS rehabilitation?

Each area should have a review of all rehab services

Poor access to rehab services blights lives and puts a needless strain on other health and care services. Physiotherapy-led rehabilitation gets people on their feet again, gives back independence and reverses damage to health.
CSP members can do this for people with a wide range of conditions – such as people who have had a stroke, have a respiratory condition, or are recovering from bone fractures.
They know that too often when people leave hospital the rehabilitation they receive in the community is insufficient – with long waiting times and services stretched too thinly to give people the intense rehabilitation that would maximise their return to health and wellbeing. 
Lack of investment is only one element of this. Often it is as much about services not working in a joined up way. This is short sighted and costly to people’s quality of life and health and care budgets.
The CSP argues that each area should have a review of all its rehabilitation services to see where the gaps are and what action needs to be taken.   

4: How can we support fair pay for quality services?

Pay freezes caps have been outstripped by the cost of living

Quality services, capable of adapting to changing population needs, rely on a motivated workforce which receives fair pay.
Since 2010 physiotherapy and other NHS staff have experienced pay freezes and pay caps that have been outstripped by the cost of living. This has, in effect, led to a drop in wages of between 8 and 12 per cent in real terms. 
This is undermining morale and motivation at a time of unprecedented change in the NHS. CSP members want to provide the best possible care to patients.
This is why we are asking candidates to commit, if they win, to support NHS staff in restoring lost income and to ensure an independent pay review body for the NHS.
Frontline Staff

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