Cumbria’s first AHP strategy is aimed at innovation

New ways of delivering physiotherapy are expected to help plug the financial deficit at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which reached £63 million in 2016-17.


Pictured at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust are director of nursing Maurya Cushlow, director of physiotherapy Helen McGahon, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton and the trust's chief executive Stephen Eames

The acute trust, together with Cumbria Partnership NHS Trust and the local county council jointly published their first strategy for allied health professions (AHPs) on 29 March, which could give physiotherapists opportunities to lead cost-saving innovations.

Helen McGahon, head of physiotherapy at North Cumbria, said: ‘We are struggling to meet the needs of the local population within the purse that we have.

‘And so we have to change the way we work to ensure that we provide good quality within our financial framework.

‘We think that AHPs are drivers in bringing about those innovations and change.’

She hoped the strategy would drive a redesign of ‘pathways’ rather than services, and ‘dissolve’ organisational barriers.

Cumbria has problems recruiting, not just AHPs, but members of all health professions, Ms McGahon said. She hoped the strategy would resolve this by being a catalyst for new, challenging and exciting roles for physiotherapists.

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton visited North Cumbria on 5 April, when she and Ms McGahon meet the trust’s chief executive. A key part of their talks was how new physiotherapy consultant posts could be created.

Ms McGahon said the CSP would be supporting her in achieving this goal.

The strategy has a four-year run and by 2021 Ms McGahon wanted to see a shift to physiotherapists being the first point of contact for all orthopaedic work.

In addition, she hoped patients would be treated as close to home as possible, and physiotherapists would be working in partnership with voluntary and third sector organisations, sharing skills and their knowledge.

‘I would also like to see that AHPs are firmly established in the leadership of the sustainability and transformation plan,’ she said.

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