The greatest concern of UK physiotherapy staff is the sense of deterioration in services, the profession’s leader, Karen Middleton, said on the opening day of CSP's Annual Representative Conference (ARC).
CSP chief executive Karen Middleton encouraged members to develop leadership skills for the future
It was ‘startling’ that CSP members who Ms Middleton met every week did not want to discuss with her ‘very tough’ things like pay, banding and staff shortages.
‘What they want me to know about is how hard they are working to still deliver high quality care and how their greatest concern is that the quality of care is in jeopardy.’
Ms Middleton was addressing more than 200 delegates at the conference in Manchester on 14 March.
Turning to the junior doctors’ dispute, which has become a ‘toxic situation’, the chief executive warned that ‘to lose clinicians' discretionary effort is probably the greatest risk any government can take.’
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s recent imposition of the contract on junior doctors did not bode well for future negotiations ‘or, indeed, for our members’ own weekend and evening pay rates,' she said.
‘As your trade union we continue to work hard to ensure we are impactful in our negotiations on these issues.’
Turning to the government’s comprehensive spending review and 6.7 per cent cuts to physio training commissions in England, Ms Middleton said the link between the two could not be denied.
‘It is completely disingenuous of this government to say it is protecting spending on the NHS whilst at the same time cutting the very workforce that will deliver the service.’
On the plus side, in Wales there has been an increase of physio training commissions of more than 36 per cent this year and last.
The development of the leadership capacity and capabilities of the physiotherapy profession was something Ms Middleton was ‘very clear’ about. ‘It will really step up a gear which is particularly vital in these turbulent times.’
She outlined how the CSP was changing the way it works ‘to engage more people, to work more locally with you and to work in a more strategic way to influence better.’
The context in which all physio staff work is going to get harder, Middleton said, ‘but I know, together, we can do this and ensure our profession is stronger so that patients and the public reap the benefits of the contribution we make to their lives.
‘Let’s not “sleepwalk into obscurity” and never, ever describe yourself as “only a physiotherapist”.’
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