Table talk

Louise Hunt looks at an event that has quickly become a Congress favourite.

With its focus on lively, informal debate that leads to action rather than hot air, the world cafe at CSP Congress is back by popular demand. Now in its third Congress year, the World Cafe format is designed to get delegates around tables discussing the topics on the menu initially among themselves, scribbling notes on tablecloths and then, with the aid of facilitators dressed as waitresses, swapping and challenging ideas with fellow ‘diners’ around the room. ‘The “waitresses” pose questions for consideration and try to spark debate between the groups,’ explains Ann Green, Congress programme lead and associate head of  physiotherapy and dietetics at Coventry University. At the end of the sessions, the facilitators summarise action points ‘so it’s not just about venting off, but about bringing forward ideas’, Ann Green says.

New ideas

These ideas might be used to raise awareness within the CSP. For example, in one debate delegates suggested ways to broaden work opportunities for unemployed graduates. ‘The debates can be very responsive to current situations,’ says Ann Green. ‘They are not taken up by the Society in the same formal way as motions at the Annual Representative Conference, but they do help us get in touch with what members are thinking at grassroots level.’ The event is also designed to encourage people who sometimes lack the confidence to speak out in large seminars, Ann Green adds. She expects a wide range of delegates to attend and is particularly looking forward to welcoming new graduates and student physios, who she says can make impressive contributions. While this year’s line-up for debate covers some established areas of physiotherapy thinking and practice, she is hoping the forum will be an opportunity to take a fresh look at current practice and perhaps challenge it.

Topics for debate

‘What’s NICE about back pain?’ will focus on the recent launch of national clinical guidelines on low back pain. Leading the session will be Elaine Buchanan, who sat on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guideline development group, the eminent pain expert and physiotherapist Professor Paul Watson, and CSP professional adviser Ralph Hammond. The discussion will cover the impact of the guidelines on musculoskeletal physiotherapy and the clinical and research opportunities for the profession, as well as the implications for commissioning, for workforce development and for undergraduate training. ‘The guidelines give us the opportunity of placing the profession at the forefront of the delivery of low back pain services,’ says Ralph Hammond. ‘Commissioners will want bids for services articulated in line with the NICE guidelines, so we intend to raise awareness of the need for physios to engage with the guidelines rather than criticising, which won’t be beneficial in the long term.’


Simon Igo and Lesley McBride, senior lecturers at Coventry University, will be considering whether evidence-based practice is relevant now that clinical practice is protocol based. ‘One of the biggest challenges for physiotherapists, managers and policy makers is to apply the principles of evidence-based practice in a changing and complex clinical, political and economic arena,’ says Simon Igo. ‘This World Cafe session will discuss the nature and value of “doing” evidence-based practice in its traditional sense,’ Simon Igo adds, by which he means searching the literature for relevant evidence, critically into practice to improve care. This is opposed  to the pragmatic approach of  using  ‘ready-made’ evidence in the form of  local and national clinical guidelines. In ‘Can physiotherapy’s future be charted?’, Virginia Wykes, who leads the CSP’s Charting the Future programme, will explore how and if physiotherapy’s core skills can be defined, as the profession advances rapidly into new areas of practice. ‘In this age of having to prove our worth, how can we demonstrate all the many existing and potential benefits we bring to people’s health and well-being?’ she asks. These and many more thought-provoking questions will be raised during the four sessions, which are being held at varying times during the Friday and Saturday. For the timetable and venue see 
Louise Hunt

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