On 5 July, ‘grande dame’ of the CSP Sarah Bazin reflects on being as old as the NHS and working in it for 40 years
On the 5th of July we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service. I was born during that same week, qualified in 1970 and then worked as a physiotherapist in the service for the next 40 years.
To begin with physiotherapists were referred to as medical auxiliaries whose role was to assist the medical practitioner with an annual salary of £128 per annum. In 1960 the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act was passed which set up state registration and a physiotherapists’ board. Although there had been small pay increases, the Halsbury Report in 1975 was the first independent review of salaries since the NHS was founded, with a 15 per cent pay increase across the board plus £104 and simplified grading structures.
I was appointed as a superintendent in 1975 and one of the first questions I was asked was, did we need to replace the physical medicine consultant who was retiring? Certainly not. We would have two new senior physiotherapy posts and the hospital would still make a saving.
I decided at that point that whatever happened, as a physiotherapist I should have a seat at which ever table rehabilitation service provision was being discussed and decisions taken, although that took some time to achieve.
In 1977 the Department of Health Memorandum HC (77) 33 established professional autonomy for physiotherapists and in 1978 the Privy Council agreed a change in the Society’s bye-laws to allow physiotherapists to treat patients without prior medical referral.
The department we had was totally inadequate for our growing service and, following representations to the health authority, I wrote a report and was informed that the regional health authority were looking to fund building contacts without revenue consequences – our application was accepted and the ‘new’ department was opened in May 1980 by Ida Bromley, then chair of the CSP council.
Funding for CPD and equipment was a challenge but investing in staff CPD was always a priority – senior staff with knowledge and experience make informed decisions and act as a resource for more junior staff leading to a more effective service and job satisfaction.
I greatly enjoyed my time in the NHS and was most fortunate to have worked with a great group of colleagues through the ups and downs of reorganisations.
Sarah's career was in physiotherapy management with a clinical interest in paediatric orthopaedics.
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