Maintaining the long view

Keeping an eye on the bigger picture is critical for all leaders. It is vital that the new Council focuses on our strategic intent, even in the face of setbacks 

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

The new CSP Council members as elected by you, the membership, are announced here. The new members will need to get to grips with the next five-year CSP Corporate Strategy, which starts in January 2023. Deciding on this strategy is very much a critical role for Council and then the ‘operation’, or the organisation (our staff and myself), will endeavour to make it happen.

Tempting as it is for the physiotherapy workforce to get down into the detail of the ‘how’, Council needs to keep an eye on the strategic intent, monitor progress and hold the CSP to account.

Let’s take some of our strategic priorities. First Contact Physiotherapy (FCP), for example, has had  implementation issues through poor workforce planning or a complete lack of planning, but the concept remains solid when it comes to accessing the most-informed MSK expertise at the front-end of the care pathway in primary care. 

This is great for patients and great for the profession – it is the most visible use of our clinical autonomy – and it creates better value in the system. Simply because there are operational issues to resolve, does not mean we should deviate from the bigger prize.

Of course, one enabler to FCP has been independent prescribing for physiotherapists – we are still the only country in the world that has this right, which we have now had for 10 years. Again, this looked impossible at the beginning, with a mire of operational difficulties en route, but when I hear about children with cystic fibrosis having their medication managed by physiotherapists in the community, so they don’t need to miss school, I know it was worth it. 

Stretching further back was self-referral to physiotherapy. It all seems so obvious now, but I can tell you it was a battle and we made sure we were not put off from our goal because there were problems. 

I also remember the excitement about the 1977 memorandum from the Department of Health that essentially meant a physiotherapist had clinical autonomy and didn’t have to do what a doctor told them to! We didn’t really maximise this until the late 1980s, with all sorts of operational issues on the way.

Coming bang up to date, legislation was recently amended, on 1 July, to allow physiotherapists to legally certify fit notes to patients. It is another step forwards towards the autonomy and profile this profession needs to fulfil its potential.

So the new Council will be keeping a close eye on the strategic direction of the profession, while not being put off by problems along the way. Together, we can solve them, influence others to change, or review our approach, while keeping our vision in mind. 

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