Change for better

Robert Millett reports on changes aimed at improving CSP governance and promoting engagement

News focus: change for better

Last year’s governance review led to a number of changes, including a revised structure for the CSP Council and the appointment of two specialist external experts to the finance, resources and audit committee (FRAC).

Current council members Katie Wilkie and Stuart Paterson have a unique insight into how the new governance model compares to the old, as both were members on the previous council.

Ms Wilkie, a specialist physio who works in the rehab outpatient service at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh, says one of the chief changes, that is already having a positive impact, is the reduction in Council members, from 27 to 12.

‘The smaller size enables us to explore different ways of working, such as using teleconferences to make decisions that need to be made in a timely fashion, outside of planned Council meetings,’ she explains.

Mr Paterson, who is director of Crystal Palace Physio Group, a private practice in South London, agrees: ‘We have the same ethos and calibre of people as we did before,’ he says.

‘But from a logistical and communications viewpoint, it’s much easier to manage.’

And he says this streamlined structure means the Council has more ‘agility’ when it comes to making decisions.

‘It feels like there are more opportunities to put opinions forward, and a greater speed of decision-making, for example when we have had to develop funding policies.’

The new Council is also striving to be more accessible and increase its interaction with members.

‘Listening to members is key for us as a member-led society, so we are keen to use as many means as we can to engage with members,’ says Ms Wilkie.

‘Our email addresses are on the CSP website so members can contact us directly, and when we meet members we want to hear their thoughts about the CSP’s work and find out how they want to engage with us.’

Council members are also seeking to broaden their understanding of members’ experiences and concerns, in all areas of the profession and in all four countries.

‘We are actively trying to get out to country board meetings and attend various groups, because we want to make sure the new council is visible,’ says Mr Paterson.

‘For example, I visited the recent Northern Ireland Board sponsored event in Belfast. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet with and listen to CSP members, as well as share some of my experience working across the private and NHS sectors’

Council’s efforts to increase their visibility were evident at this year’s Physiotherapy UK conference, says Ms Wilkie.

‘We wore badges to help us stand out and we chatted to as many members as we could, on stands and during breaks, and listened to their issues.’

Mr Paterson adds: ‘The conference felt like one of the most optimistic of recent times, and people told us it was great to meet and speak with us.’

He adds that the introduction of comprehensive induction sessions has provided incoming council members with a greater understanding of the CSP and the wider healthcare landscape.

‘We’ve had financial training, leadership and high performing teams training and trade union related sessions  – all of which helps when we go out and meet with members.’

External expertise

The new governance structure also allowed CSP to appoint external experts, Matthew Redford and Tracy Staines, as volunteer FRAC members.

Both are trained accountants with a wealth of professional experience and a shared interest in health issues.

Ms Staines the head of audit at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, is also studying for an MSc in Public Health Policy.

Mr Redford is the director of registration and resources at the General Osteopathic Council, one of the nine statutory healthcare regulators in the UK.

Together, they hope to use their business experience and expertise to help the CSP make sound governance decisions.

‘Our roles involve thinking about anything that might impact the CSP adversely,’ says Ms Staines.

‘We’re also looking at ways for it to take advantage of positive opportunities, and making sure members have the right support and feel their needs are being addressed and understood.’

Mr Redford says that one of their main goals is to ensure the CSP remains in a secure position so that it effectively represents members and successfully leads the profession.

They will be using their skills to consider the potential impact of environmental factors, such as economic or political risks and have contingency plans in place to deal with any situations that arise.

‘That means ensuring the right controls and systems are in place, and that those systems are being tested,’ Mr Redford said.

Ms Staines adds: ‘The CSP is an important organisation, which has key aims that it’s trying to deliver. But to do that it needs to have appropriate risk management procedures in place, and appropriate governance and financial structures – and we are here to support physiotherapists and members who are part of the governance structure to achieve that.’

As well as offering specialist advice and insight, they also hope to offer a valuable ‘outsider viewpoint.

‘It’s important for the CSP to keep up-to-date, in terms of benchmarking against other organisations and learning how other companies have navigated through a particular problem or succeeded in a particular way,’ says Ms Staines.

Mr Redford adds that organisations often benefit from having input from people who can question the ‘normal way’ of doing things and make constructive challenges to the status quo.

‘By bringing different views into the decision-making process organisations can avoid “group think” and falling into the trap of a single way of thinking.’

For similar reasons, Ms Staines adds that it is vital that members’ views are heard and used to actively inform and influence Council decisions.

‘We want the CSP to be an organisation that is around for many years to come, and we want it to thrive,’ she says. 

Author: Robert Millett

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