The CSPs new vice chair of Council talks to Graham Clews about her role and how she sees the future for the profession
The CSP’s new vice chair sees some turbulence on the horizon for healthcare in the UK. Far from worrying for the physiotherapy profession, however, she sees the upheaval, in the NHS in particular, as an opportunity for physios to demonstrate their value as healthcare practitioners. Dr Helena Johnson, principal lecturer in physiotherapy at York St John University and educator representative on CSP Council, was elected to her two-year stint as vice chair in October. Now she is ready to help lead physiotherapists to prove their worth as the NHS continues its evolution. ‘I think the next couple of years will be a difficult time for the health service because of the financial situation we’re facing, but physiotherapists have always been very good at delivering services in an innovative and effective way,’ she says. She wants physiotherapists at the frontline, and the CSP as an organisation, to demonstrate the vital role they play in healthcare provision. And Council, she ways, will provide strong leadership during this challenging time. ‘The opportunity is there,’ she says. ‘Things may be turbulent but seizing the opportunity to influence the agenda must be one of the challenges we can, and will, rise to.’ One of the most powerful tools at the CSP’s disposal to help shape this agenda will be its new system of English networks that match the 10 strategic health authority areas. They will give physios the opportunity to influence both their SHA and their local commissioners, Helena believes. The networks should also give grassroots physios a voice in national CSP policy. ‘Members can sometimes think they have little or no effect on CSP policy, but by using the networks and with the collective support from the CSP, we can have a real influence,’ she says. ‘Every region in England is different, and the networks will provide a chance for that local voice as well as feeding into national policy. I have been amazed by the enthusiasm for the networks and now we need to keep up the momentum.’ There will be no lack of enthusiasm from Helena, or from Ann Green, who Helena believes, will be a ‘fantastic chair’ of the CSP. They are both keen to keep the Society’s focus aimed squarely at its members, and the networks will again play their role in that. Although both Ann Green and Helena work in physiotherapy education, Helena will draw on her hugely varied experience across the whole of physiotherapy to fulfil her vice chair role. Her career has covered almost every aspect. After starting out as a physiotherapy assistant she worked in the private sector as well as gaining 20 years’ experience as a clinician in the NHS. She has worked in a number of clinical specialties in the acute sector including musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory, and neurological physiotherapy, and she has spent time working in other areas of physiotherapy including community paediatrics and the prison service. Clinical physiotherapy is, she says, ‘her business’, but it will be physios of all stripes that she will seek to represent during her time in office.
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