Q: I’m really worried what the future will be for me – is my NHS job safe?
A. There is a huge amount of uncertainty and change at the moment which is unsettling for many members.
That’s one reason why, early next year, the CSP is launching a campaign for action on stress. The CSP will also argue for fair pay and make the link between quality of care and quality of employment.
It’s also why we campaign to influence government policy and the CSP’s professional development colleagues – most of them qualified physios – work with members to see how services can be improved. Unless the profession offers solutions to the challenges faced by the NHS, it risks being side-lined. In the long term that could mean the profession shrinking. It’s essential the entire society – including members too – are fully involved in influencing change.
The CSP is passionately committed to the NHS – arguing that there must be more investment in both the NHS and social care, that the NHS should continue to be free and paid for out of taxation, and has warned of the risks of pursuing short term savings at the expense of long term change.
With the right investment, including in the workforce, the NHS could be more rehabilitative, preventive and empowering – for all our sakes. In November chief executive Karen Middleton will give evidence to the House of Lords on the future sustainability of the NHS.
Q: What is the CSP doing to improve the care my patients receive on the NHS?
A. Governments across the UK want to stem the rising demand on hospitals and increase the public’s health by improving out of hospital care.
Speeding up access to physiotherapy expertise and the support needed for rehabilitation and recovery in communities will reduce unnecessary pain and disability that damages people’s lives in the long term.
The party conferences have been in the limelight in recent weeks, and the CSP held events at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham and the Scottish National Party. However this is just a small part of what we do on your behalf to get this message across.
While we were at the Conservatives’ conference, we held discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the health select committee, the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Nuffield Foundation and the King’s Fund.
The work done by CSP staff can be used by members and colleagues to influence locally – for example the campaigns in the last year in Mid Essex and Worcestershire which stopped plans going ahead to reduce physio services.
Q: We all want patients to be able to refer themselves direct to an NHS physio rather than go through a GP referral. How are you arguing for that to happen?
A. For the last 18 months we have been pushing for an expansion of self-referral to physiotherapy and promoting a development that sees physios providing advice and support within practices.
As a result of Karen Middleton’s evidence to the health select committee a year ago, this is now being championed by that committee. Now we are working with NHS England to make sure commitments are turned into a reality.
We have shown how improved access to physiotherapy in primary care, and allowing physios to issue Fit Notes, better supports people to be fit for work.
We hope (fingers crossed) these proposals will be in a government green paper on health and work, due out in the next few months.
We have worked to get GPs on board, showing how this can ease pressures – working in partnership with the BMA and RCGP.
Q: We know physio students are facing difficulty getting placements, and struggling with debt. How are you fighting for them?
A. There is a real problem with not enough physiotherapy course places – which means potential students unable to pursue their chosen career and services being over stretched as vacancies can’t be filled.
If this isn’t addressed there is a risk to service provision.
The CSP has campaigned for changes to the plans for student loans in England – for example, getting concessions from Health Education England on travel and expenses – and this work is ongoing.
Expanding the supply of placements is essential to expanding the profession. Influencing how the education tariff – the money set aside to fund physiotherapy student placements – is used is important work for us.
But the expansion of placements is also in member’s hands.
The whole profession has a responsibility to help with student education. There are lots of myths that are preventing this from happening. This is why next year CSP Council will be leading a major new campaign to change this.
Q: Is all this just going on in England and Westminster?
A. Not at all.
The CSP policy team is made up of nine of us spread across the UK and we work separately and together to influence policy. For example, Pip Ford, sits on a new ministerial task force on primary care in Wales. In the run up to the national elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Kenryck Lloyd Jones led a campaign for candidates to pledge their support to ‘I’m backing rehab’. In Northern Ireland, Tom Sullivan has succeeded in winning political support for self-referral.
We work really closely with colleagues across the CSP and we all rely on members. So why not think about how you might be able to help? Things don’t happen overnight, but there are lots of things you can do to help.
Our arguments are always much stronger with examples of members’ practice. So one place to start , if you have a great service to shout about, is to let us know! Contact us with your details at: casestudies.csp.org.uk
- Rachel Newton is head of policy at the CSP
Rachel Newton head of policy at the CSP