The benefit of belonging

Being on the picket lines, while industrial action was a last resort, there was a sense of belonging and collective purpose, writes CEO Karen Middleton 

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

The cost-of-living crisis is impacting on all our lives, and on some more than others. When I was on the picket line in February, I heard first-hand how our members in the NHS are trying to cope and, of course, the problem isn’t limited to the public sector.

We were all there demonstrating about the lack of a fair pay deal and the impact this was having on the NHS workforce and NHS services for patients and the public. No one wanted to be there – it was a huge decision to strike – but the collective need to protest was palpable. And, of course, the pay deal in the NHS affects the pay deals in the independent sector too, and it was heartening to see the support from members in other sectors of healthcare.

I know that members have had to think very hard about their membership of the CSP when there are so many pressures on every pound we spend. We can talk about PLI, representation and legal support, professional advice, access to tools and resources, and a myriad of other benefits to belonging, but there is also something intangible – the very sense of ‘belonging’.

Working on your own, as so many of us have found in the virtual world, can be very isolating. I often think about the members who work in private practice as lone practitioners and how hard they must work to stay networked and to be able to check in with others about their clinical practice. For a while I worked in the NHS and private practice at the same time - and not being able to pop out and check in with a colleague, as I did in the NHS outpatients department, was hard.

And, of course, working in the NHS itself can be isolating – often working in the community can feel very lonely. I note how our student members love to be on placements with other students because they feel less isolated. It’s a very human need to want to stay connected to others and wherever we work, we find ways of doing that.

The CSP can really help through its networks and boards, through webinars and events we run and the availability of our staff to guide and support you. Simply belonging to the CSP means you are part of something much bigger, and, together we are stronger and more influential on behalf of the whole profession. 

Thinking back to the picket line, I think most members can say they enjoyed the experience. No, they didn’t want to go on strike and no they didn’t enjoy the loss of a day’s pay, but they did really enjoy coming together to protest about something as important as pay on behalf of the whole profession, across all sectors. It was a message about valuing physiotherapy.

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