Valuing physiotherapy

Our strike action is focused on fair pay, but it’s also about survival of the NHS and value of physiotherapy staff, says Karen Middleton

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton and members [image: David Harrison]

By the time you read this, we will have already completed two days of strike action in England. In January we had the first ever day of strike action over pay in the CSP’s history and it was a day I could not have predicted.

I qualified in 1985 and I remember the 80s and early 90s as being desperate. I have talked about the meal out with my Orthopaedic colleagues to celebrate getting waiting times for a hip replacement down to three years! But I don’t recall spirits being low – we were all driven to do our best and things did start to improve as the investment in the NHS went up.

I spent the first strike day out with members on the picket lines across five trusts in London. What was so clear to me – and different from the 80s – was how low morale was. This wasn’t just about exhaustion after the pandemic, or the huge backlog or increasing demand. This was about physiotherapists and support workers not feeling valued; it was about members leaving the profession as a result and leaving behind an even more depleted workforce; and it was about how the profession at large is not valued.

It was also about their grave concern for the NHS.

The CSP’s corporate strategy is titled ‘Valuing Physiotherapy’ and all our work, one way or another, is about ensuring the public and decision-makers understand our value.

The support we received during the strikes, from the public, from other healthcare professionals and the CEOs and management teams of the trusts I visited was amazing. They were clear this isn’t a ‘trade union’ thing, it is about the survival of the NHS.

It is in everyone’s interest, whatever sector you work in, to ensure fair pay for those working in the NHS. Surely no members, whatever sector you work in, wants people to leave this profession? Surely no member wants to see physiotherapy services in the NHS unable to deliver high quality care? And surely no member wants to see the demise of the NHS? 

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