In person: think global, act local

Don’t wait for disaster: plan for it, says CSP chief executive Karen Middleton.

When I took up my post, I was keen to develop a new ethos for the CSP. I knew that getting that right would help to ensure a better service for members, and make the CSP an even more effective player on the health stage. 
Staff have been working through a change programme called Good to Great. But changing how we work isn’t something staff can do alone. 
While making the most of the excellent staff team, I also want to maximise the role members play in shaping new models of care and ensuring better value for money, wherever you work. I want members to influence workforce planning to ensure we get the supply of physiotherapists we need. Key to this is getting the message across that physiotherapy works, wherever it is provided, in whatever sector.
So one element of Good to Great recognises the importance of influencing at country, regional and local levels. This can really only be achieved by members engaging decision-makers – be they managers in a trust, health boards or clinical commissioning groups (CCGs ) – on a more local basis. 

Local organising

To support members locally we are developing new ways of working for our staff and have moved some resources to invest in workplace organising and local campaigning. We are also piloting dedicated professional advice in Scotland. 
CSP staff can help to increase our impact locally but can’t substitute for the presence and knowledge of members in their communities.
Our strategy for 2017-20, developed with CSP Council, will be the operational framework for the next three years. This will make work on a more local basis a strategic priority for the CSP. 
To realise this goal, we will need to work efficiently and be out in the localities more. That will be a real challenge for a UK-wide organisation which also needs to deal with UK-wide services as a union and professional body, with relatively few staff. Supporting members locally, by producing the tools and developing your influencing skills, has to be part of the solution. After all, you are the experts in physiotherapy in your locality.  
Our model of influencing will be based on local organising and campaigning rather than top-down direction from the centre.  We will be flexible about how we organise. CSP staff and members will need to work together on local issues, including the local impact of national issues. We will continue to support existing networks such as the English regional networks, student, stewards and safety rep networks.   But we also need to encourage members to work through less formal networks, regardless of where they work. That could be groups of managers, professional networks, educators, researchers or simply members in a  workplace or community working together to promote physiotherapy. 

Irresistible offer

Things have changed in healthcare. We can no longer expect to be included in plans, purchased or commissioned as of right. We have to make the offer irresistible: to prove our value.
Of course, this may sound like extra work for already hard-pressed physio staff, but influencing can be shared if organised well. 
The great outcome achieved in Mid Essex, where the CCG had threatened to decommission physiotherapy, is an example of us all working together. Local members attended the CCG consultation meetings, campaigned on social media, signed petitions and talked to their patients, friends and families to enlist their support. CSP staff worked with members to lobby behind the scenes to nudge in the right direction. As a result the proposal has been stopped. Physio staff are now at the table with decision-makers, showing how physiotherapy can be the solution to their financial problem.
If there’s one thing I have learnt, it’s that you can’t just wait until disaster threatens. 
Far better to get organised now, tool up and start developing those relationships where your influence will be crucial.  


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Karen Middleton

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