Significant change and challenge for the CSP, the profession and wider society defined 2022
It was a year where we continued to recover from the ongoing impact of Covid-19, while operating at a time of geopolitical and socioeconomic turmoil. This was punctuated by historic moments such as the death of our patron Queen Elizabeth II and the invasion of Ukraine, which we all had to pause and reflect on.
Against this backdrop I became chair of CSP Council at the end of 2022. We welcomed six newly elected members into an increasingly diverse group, which we hope will enable us to represent and engage our growing membership.
The year was in part defined by our members’ rejection of NHS staff pay awards and offers, which led the way for unprecedented mandates for industrial action, first in Scotland and then in England and Wales.
With Northern Ireland without a functioning executive, members there continued to be impacted by inertia on pay negotiations and working conditions.
We saw members galvanised to exercise their right to strike and have their voice heard on pay, workloads and conditions in the NHS. These decisions were difficult but critical to enable the CSP, alongside other health unions, to secure the best pay deals available. The commitment of CSP staff and activists during this time, alongside the drive and passion of members, was inspiring.
Equity, diversity and belonging (EDB) continued to be a key area of focus for the CSP. In recognition that work around EDB is core to the CSP achieving its wider objectives, council agreed that the equity, diversity and belonging strategy should be incorporated into the 2023-2027 corporate strategy. This ensured that EDB would be an explicitly measured consideration throughout all areas of work.
This approach is essential if we are to address the inequality of experience and opportunity faced by members, and inequality of access and outcomes faced by patients.
We also decided that councils’ decision making and leadership around EDB should be supported by a new equity, diversity and belonging committee to provide expertise, insight, support, and advice to council on EDB matters.
Whether you’re a student, support worker or FCP, or work in the NHS, private practice, or research, all our members are connected by a desire to have a positive impact on and through our profession. I hope you find that this report reflects how the CSP has contributed to this endeavour.
I’d like to place on record my thanks to all the members and staff who contributed to our achievements over 2022.
As the immediate impact of Covid-19 receded in 2022, the longer-term effects of the pandemic continued to be felt within our profession, healthcare more widely and society at large. Alongside this, the cost-of-living crisis began to have an increasing impact on members, which, alongside a continuing workforce crisis, fuelled anger and low morale among members working in the NHS.
A rejection of initial NHS pay awards and subsequent mandates for industrial action across Scotland, England, and Wales towards the latter half of the year gave voice to these feelings of being chronically undervalued – despite the profession rising to the challenge of an unprecedented pandemic – alongside anger at deteriorating pay and working conditions and fatigue with chronically high workloads.
This mandate led to a revised and improved pay offer being agreed in Scotland and accepted by members there – with the CSP’s position, alongside other health unions, strengthened by the mandate for industrial action which members voted for. As progress stalled for any resolution of the situation in England and Wales, the CSP mobilised to support members in what was anticipated to be the first strike action on pay in the organisation’s history. In Northern Ireland, frustratingly, any progress at all was impeded by the lack of a functioning executive.
Alongside supporting members to act on pay, the CSP consistently made the case for government action on the workforce crisis and addressing the backlog in NHS care, as well as the essential role of rehabilitation and how the physiotherapy workforce could tackle the effects of the pandemic and help in accelerating hospital discharge. The CSP also continued to advocate for developing the workforce through FCP and support worker roles to improve access to physiotherapy across the UK.
In support of members, we intervened to address HCPC failures during reregistration at the beginning of the year; continued lobbying against single colour AHP uniform proposals; and introducing a free membership category for international physiotherapists and physio students seeking asylum. In recognition of the climate crisis, the CSP declared a climate emergency, and work on greener physiotherapy was included in the 2023-2027 strategy, approved by council towards the end of the year.
This impact report is the last of the CSP’s strategic period 2020-2022. The achievements outlined here provide a foundation for the CSP’s work in the next strategic period, with several recurring themes running between both.
Equity, diversity and belonging (EDB), for example, will run across all our work. Some activities, such as our microaggressions campaign, will continue into 2023, with tangible progress on this a priority. Work on pay and the physiotherapy workforce will continue.
Our commitment to supporting and advancing the interests of our members and of physiotherapy, too, will continue to be the aim of all our work.
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