Queen honours work of five physiotherapists

Five CSP members received recognition in the Queen’s 2019 New Year’s Honours list, for services to physiotherapy, physiotherapy research, long-term conditions and voluntary service to sports.

Nicola Phillips, professor of sport and exercise physiotherapy at Cardiff University, received an OBE


Nicola Phillips, professor of sport and exercise physiotherapy at Cardiff University, received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to physiotherapy research.

Professor Phillips’s research has included clinical studies of functional rehabilitation of knee and shoulder injuries.

Alongside her academic work, she has also worked in physiotherapy and sport at various levels from recreational to high performance for over 35 years.

This has included working with the Welsh and British weightlifting teams, professional rugby union, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.

She told Frontline: ‘I am excited and honoured to have received this award for services to physiotherapy. I am passionate about my profession and the role physios play in helping people to get active and stay active; whether that is getting off the sofa or competing on a world stage.

‘The fact that physiotherapy colleagues took the time and effort to submit a nomination, as well as people I’ve worked with, in both the physiotherapy and sports areas, supporting the nomination is very humbling.

‘I’ve worked with some fantastic people and learned so much from those around me, that I feel I should share the award with them.’

Professor Phillips attended her first Commonwealth Games as a physiotherapist in 1986 and last year, at her ninth Commonwealth Games, she took on the role of Chef de Mission for Team Wales in Gold Coast 2018.

Olympic and Paralympic support

Her first Olympic Games with Team GB was in 1992 and she became the head physiotherapist at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Professor Phillips was also a volunteer in 2012 at both the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, leading a physiotherapy team at the athlete village polyclinic.

During her career, she has also led both the UK’s Physios in Sport group (ACPSEM) and the International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT); helping to set standard competencies and develop structured professional development pathways.

And she currently provides consultancy support for the Welsh Rugby Players Association and Wales Touch Association, as well as being a board member of the UK Anti-Doping and Commonwealth Games Council for Wales.

‘Seeing how the role of physios in the sporting world has developed over the last 20-30 years is very rewarding and playing a part in helping develop professionals who can support athletes of all abilities is very rewarding,’ she said.

‘I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities to help make a difference in something I love doing.’

Consultant physiotherapist Susie Durrell, who received an MBE

Susie Durrell (MBE)

CSP Fellow Susie Durrell, a consultant physiotherapist at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to physiotherapy.

Mrs Durrell, a pioneer in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, received a CSP Fellowship in 2009, for her contribution towards advancing the physiotherapy profession as a whole.

Her influential work has included developing and leading the occupational interest group Chartered Physiotherapists working as Extended Scope Practitioners (ESP), now renamed as the Advanced Practice Physiotherapy Network (APPN).

She chaired the network's committee during its inaugural years, from 1994–1999, and in 2010 she took on the role of honorary president of the network.

Mrs Durrell told Frontline: ‘I’m thrilled and very proud to be recognised for my work. I feel it is a reflection of my dedication, drive and passion to support advance practice throughout my career.

‘But I want to make sure that everybody who has either supported me or worked with me is  also recognised, because I feel my work, professionally, has been based around team work and integrated services.

‘I work with masses of talented, dedicated and expert people and we are all trying to deliver the best care we can, for everyone we can.’

Encouraging best practice

From 2006 to 2010, Mrs Durrell worked on the Department of Health’s 18 weeks orthopaedic co-ordinating group, contributing expert advice to the committee influencing national advisory documents, guidance and musculoskeletal services modelling. 

She has also lectured extensively to disseminate and positively encourage models of best practice and service transformation at a national and international level.

In 2014, her trust recognised her as the ‘outstanding clinical leader of the year’, and she remains an active member of the Gloucestershire musculoskeletal clinical commissioning programme group.

As part of her clinical leadership role, Mrs Durrell mentors a growing numbers of expert clinicians’ in their professional development, including extending their practice.

Consultant physiotherapist Victoria Dickens, who received an MBE

Victoria Dickens (MBE)

Victoria Dickens, a consultant physiotherapist and clinical director of orthopaedics at Salford Royal NHS Trust, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to physiotherapy.

Ms Dickens is the director of allied health professionals at the Northern Care Alliance and a consultant physiotherapist and clinical director for orthopaedics at Salford Care Organisation.

She told Frontline: ‘I had to keep re-reading the letter telling me about being awarded an MBE. I then spent the next few days with a massive smile on my face.

‘I am honoured and humbled to receive an award at this level. I love being a physiotherapist and thoroughly enjoy every day at work.

‘I work with inspiring and amazing people and I am delighted that the work we do has been recognised in this manner.’

Passion, dedication and expertise

Ms Dickens graduated from Pinderfields College of Physiotherapy in 1993 and earned her MSc in 2002. She specialised in musculoskeletal conditions in 1995 and worked at various NHS organisations before Salford.

In 2013, when she was appointed as clinical director for orthopaedics at Salford, she was the first physiotherapist to hold such a position in tertiary care. And she became director of allied health professionals at Northern Care Alliance last year.

Commenting on her award, Elaine Inglesby-Burke, chief nurse for the Northern Care Alliance, said: ‘Patients using Salford’s services have been long-standing recipients of Vicki’s passion, dedication and expertise and within her group-wide role, we’re now enabling staff and patients at all of our care organisations to benefit from her leadership and knowledge.’

Specialist neurophysio Debbie Soave (fourth from left), who received an MBE, pictured with her colleagues

Debbie Soave (MBE)

Debbie Soave, a neurological physiotherapist from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to long-term conditions.

She told Frontline: ‘It is a huge honour to have been awarded an MBE for my work with longer term neurological conditions and I have been overwhelmed by the support from colleagues and patients.

‘I would like to thank Karen Poole, consultant physiotherapist in rehabilitation for nominating me and for her role in supporting our service.  Receiving this honour affords me a great opportunity to raise the profile of physiotherapy for longer-term conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s (PD) and Huntington’s disease in managing their symptoms and encouraging activity.'

Improving services for people with long-term conditions

After qualifying from St Thomas Hospital, Mrs Soave worked at Brighton Hospitals before starting her current post in neuro-physiotherapy outpatients at Eastbourne District General Hospital, where she has just celebrated 25 years at the trust.

‘My caseload is very variable but has a high proportion of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. I work closely with our MS and PD nurse specialists and with our local MS and PD branches.

‘I am a committee member for Sussex ACPIN and am also part of the London and SE Coast Network of Physiotherapists, who are working to improve services for patients with conditions such as muscular dystrophy.’

Kate Dick, professional lead physiotherapist at the trust, said: ‘We are delighted that Debbie has received this honour and been recognised for her hard work and dedication over many years in delivering high quality care to our local population with longer term conditions.

‘Her expertise not only supports her patients but contributes to the professional development of staff.’

Senior physiotherapist Sue Crewe-Smith, who received an MBE

Sue Crewe-Smith (MBE)

Sue Crewe-Smith, a senior physiotherapist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her services to physiotherapy and for her voluntary service to amateur sports.

Her many achievements include recruiting and leading a team of physiotherapy volunteers, on an annual basis, to provide support for runners at the London Marathon. She has done this ever since 1981, when the London Marathon first began.

She also provides support for the British Transplant Games, which are due to take place in Newport this year.

‘It’s all a bit of a shock and I didn’t expect anything like this,’ she told Frontline.

‘When I saw an envelope that said “The Cabinet” on it, I thought I must be in trouble, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d done wrong. And then, when I opened it I thought someone must be taking the mick, and I went through several days of disbelief.

‘I’ve been so overwhelmed by the hundreds of messages I’ve received from so many people since it was announced, and every time I get a message I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve learnt from that person and how they’ve inspired me to carry on.

‘I’ve been greatly inspired and influenced by all the people I’ve met, throughout my career, as I’ve learnt from them all. I’m always learning – from every patient I treat and from every physio I meet - and every little challenge has been a building block that has helped me learn how to help another patient or how to help another physio.’

Churchill Fellowship

Mrs Crewe-Smith originally trained as a remedial gymnast in 1973, before going on to gain a BSc degree in Medical Science from the University of Westminster in 1986 and qualifying as a physiotherapist the following year.

Early on in her career, she worked as a physiotherapist for the French Federation of Gymnastics at the Vittel Olympic Preparation Center, and later on with British Gymnastics.

‘I learnt a lot of sports medicine there, and then I came back and worked at Farnham Park, a regional sports injury centre, and at other rehabilitation centres,’ she said.

Then, in 1981, she received a Winston Churchill Fellowship that allowed her to travel internationally to research sports and medicine.

‘The fellowship inspired a lifetime change, as it exposed me to some of the greatest minds in North America and inspired me in my career.’

She added that she has been a member of the British Association of Sports and Exercise Medicine since 1979, which has given her enormous opportunity to learn, alongside her membership of CSP.

‘I also worked at Myton Hospice in Warwick for five years, which taught me a massive amount, and I’m doing a bit of volunteering at the moment by helping with exercise classes for people with dementia in our local area, and the classes really help them.’

Putting physio on the map

Mrs Crewe-Smith said receiving an MBE was a huge honour after a lifetime of being dedicated to her work and she expressed praise for her team, saying: 'You're only as good as the team you work with'. 

She added that she was indebted to her family, who continually inspire her, and was especially glad that her honour would help ‘put physiotherapy and volunteering on the map’

‘I firmly believe that charity and volunteering is an important part of physiotherapy as we have unique skills to offer. I look forward to working with more students and new physiotherapists who are committed to helping people recover.'

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