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Why job titles really matter

It was with frustration that I thought I should write to the CSP regarding the loss of our abbreviated title ‘PT’. But when I entered ‘Frontline letters page’ into the CSP search engine, I was surprised that the first letter to come up expressed concern about very similar issues.

My concern is that fitness instructors now call themselves ‘personal trainers’, or PTs for short. 

Until a couple of years ago , I would always abbreviate my title to PT in my clinical notes, but I dare not do this anymore in case it is assumed I am referring to a personal trainer. 

Just last week, a local personal trainer, who advertises herself as Jo Bloggs PT, started marketing her ‘falls class to improve balance and strength and reduce the risk of falling in older adults’. 

While part of me is really happy that more people are reaching out to help our elderly population, I am also very concerned that it can easily be assumed that Jo Bloggs is a physiotherapist – especially as similar classes are run by a chartered physiotherapist less than 100 yards down the road from hers. 

The boundaries between our professions continue to become more and more blurred, and before long no one will know the difference between physiotherapist and personal trainer, especially as our titles and our roles are so similar to the lay public. 

I have never been to Jo Bloggs’ classes. But I find it hard to believe that for £2.50  per class (yes – that is how much this PT charges for her falls classes) she takes the time to assess each individual fully, find the cause of their falls, treat the root of the problem, refer on to other specialisms if required, and tailor the content of her classes to meet the needs of each individual client. 

That is just the start of where the difference between our professions, and the strength of the physiotherapist, comes to the forefront. 

With recent cuts across the NHS, and with cheaper prices in the private sector as well as the potentially misleading abbreviated job title, the exercise component of our profession runs risk of being priced out of the market altogether.

  • Jo Pritchard, Nottinghamshire

Let’s create safe exercise spaces for people with physical frailty

I am a community physiotherapist and have been thinking how beneficial it would be for frail elderly people to be able to access a safe level area outside to practise their walking and enjoy the great outdoors. 

In the same way that most villages or towns have a playground for children, perhaps there could be a small space with a flat and even path exclusively for people who are elderly or frail to use for exercise. 

It could perhaps be the size of a swimming pool and people could do ‘lengths’ and have benches to rest on at each end. 

I think having a safe easy-access space like this in every town or village would really help get older people out more. This in turn would help to reduce depression and lower the risk of falls. 

  • Penny McCrabbe, lead physiotherapist 

A key question about insomnia

With a history of 30 years of insomnia, which made being on top of my physiotherapy job really challenging, I welcomed your comprehensive article on insomnia. 

My nightmare came to an end when a GP finally listened to my story of being unable to stay in bed, to be still, or even go to the cinema. She finally prescribed a medication for restless leg syndrome (pramipexole) and, hey presto, my insomnia ended. 

No one in my 30 year search for a solution considered a dopamine dysfunction to be the cause of my sleeplessness. The key question is: can you keep still in bed?’ Please do consider this in any assessment for insomnia. 

  • Lesley Dike, physiotherapist

Are times really changing?

I retired from the NHS three years ago, and fought throughout my career for recognition of the contribution of allied health professionals (APHs), and in particular the need for senior leadership roles.

So I read Frontline’s article on the call to scrap the ‘ban’ on AHPs from top jobs with a mixture of satisfaction and wry humour. 

I remember attending a national AHP conference, some time in the early 90s. Back then, Virginia Bottomley was the secretary of state for health. She was on the panel, as was our AHP lead, along with her boss. the chief nurse.

I heard very positive things about what we as a group of professionals could do for our patients and for the NHS. Indeed, I heard positive feedback throughout my career in the health service.

During a question and answer session, I posed a question: why there was a legal requirement for medical and nursing leadership roles on trust boards, but no equity for AHPs? 

I further queried that, if our contribution was so vital, why was our lead AHP answerable to a nurse. 

Really, my point was that the key to maximising our contribution was to ensure equitable access to senior leadership roles for AHPs. I received a standing ovation.

While I welcome this motion in parliament, I wonder why it has it taken until 2019, a quarter of a century after I expressed a view (which was obviously held by everyone in that room) to get to this point? 

I wish Norman Lamb and his colleagues the very best of luck in changing this outdated and unfair law.

  • Lesley Walters

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