Research physio named AHP of the Year as physios triumph at awards

A physiotherapist was crowned AHP of the Year at last night’s Chief Allied Health Professions (AHP) Officer Awards, while other physiotherapy staff received prestigious awards too.

Rob Goodwin receives his AHP of the year award from chief allied health professions officer for England Suzanne Rastrick

Rob Goodwin, a clinical academic physiotherapist at Nottingham CityCare CIC and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham, won two awards - the AHP of the Year 2019 award and the Research Impact Award, which was developed by the Council for AHP Research and the National Institute for Health Research.

‘I was nominated for the research impact award on the back of my evaluation of first contact physiotherapy, which was the first peer reviewed publication of genuine first contact physiotherapy,’ Mr Goodwin said.

‘That led to me doing a PhD at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, where I’ve furthered my research into first contact physiotherapists.

‘And I’ve just finished my PhD and I graduate tomorrow– so it’s been quite a week!

‘I feel really honoured to have won these awards, especially as just over a year after I started my PhD (in 2015) I had quite a severe stroke. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to make a full recovery, so I am really pleased I was able to complete my studies within the last three years.’


CSP assistant director Ruth ten Hove described Mr Goodwin’s award wins as ‘extraordinary’ and ‘very well deserved.’

‘Rob has been leading the qualitative component of the first contact physiotherapy (FCP) evaluation, and has brought rigour, passion and innovation to the primary care agenda,’ she said.

Meanwhile, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton added: ‘Rob was able todemonstrate with his research the impact on patient care and the wider health economy.’

Thanking the CSP for its support, Mr Goodwin added: ‘I’d like to acknowledge CLAHRC East Midlands, who provided me with a research grant to support my PhD, and CityCare who have supported me during my research.’

Student physios receive praise

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton with student of the year award winners Adam Davis and Harry Ford

Physiotherapy staff were also represented in other award-winning teams as well as being shortlisted in a number of categories.

Former undergraduate physiotherapists Adam Davis and Harry Ford from University of the West of England won in the student of the year category.

The physio students were recognised for volunteering for the first ever role emerging physiotherapy placements to be undertaken at their university; working within a care home liaison team from Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust , which had previously had no physiotherapy provision. 

The awards panel noted that they had taken on the opportunity, and challenge, with enthusiasm, professionalism and maturity, and by doing so had allowed the care home staff to gain a positive insight into how physiotherapy can be beneficial in this setting.

Mr Davis, who now works as a musculoskeletal physio for Bridgwater Community Hospital in Devon, said: ‘Having the opportunity to apply for a brand new role emerging physiotherapy placement at the end of my second year was a really exciting prospect.

‘The aim of the placement was to develop a physiotherapy service within a number of residential homes around Bristol which at the time didn’t exist. We worked closely with Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust and Kate Stancombe, our lecturer at University of the West of England, to provide physiotherapy interventions to the residents in each home.

‘During our five week placement, we developed a physiotherapy service within each residential home to assess and treat each resident within the comfort of their own room. Additionally, we started swimming and gardening groups for residents with dementia to increase their activity and interaction with each other.

Every day was a challenge, but one that Harry and I both thrived on and enjoyed

Following the success of their placements, the university has continued the role emerging placement scheme and now plans to expand the role in coming years.

‘Being nominated for the Student of the Year award was such a shock and to win the award against some other incredible finalists was an absolute honour. I am extremely proud to have been recognised for my efforts throughout the placement and hope that Harry and I can be the first of many physiotherapy students to be involved in successful role emerging placements.’

The Student of the Year winners at the awards ceremony

Mr Ford, now working as a musculoskeletal physio for a private practice based in Woking and Egham, added that: ‘We loved our placement. It was a really good opportunity to learn to build professional relationships with many different MDT members including occupational therapists and care home staff.

'It was also very rewarding being able to provide services that the care homes had not previously been able to manage - for instance we took a group of dementia patients swimming which was very popular with both the residents and their families.

‘It felt fantastic to be recognised for this award as I do believe that role emerging placements are a great opportunity for future physiotherapy students due to the exposure to a variety of different experiences and the interpersonal and organisational skills that it has helped me to develop.

‘And the placement has also helped me to settle into my current job greatly as I am the first new graduate physiotherapist that they have employed and so my experience at managing my own caseload combined with some fantastic CPD training and a very supportive staff network has helped me to join the team seamlessly and help develop a suitable graduate programme for future employees.’

Pioneering knee rehab pathway

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Enhanced Recovery Therapy Team with CSP chief executive Karen Middleton

Meanwhile the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford’s enhanced recovery therapy team, which includes physiotherapists, won the quality improvement award for reducing patients' length of stay following knee surgery. 

The team were recognised for implemented an innovative rehabilitation protocol for all patients receive knee surgery at the centre, using a service improvement methodology, which has led to 45.5 per cent of patients being discharge on the day they have surgery.

Physiotherapists at thee centre work as part of a multidisciplinary team that provides support to all in and out-patient services. They provide an in-patient rehabilitation service to support the elective surgical caseload and a complex specialist out-patient physiotherapy service for specialist surgery and pain management.

A spokesperson from the centre said: 'Current practice following knee replacement is to commence flexion promptly in an attempt to limit post-operative stiffness. Attainment of a pre-specified amount of knee flexion is one metric in discharge criteria. However, early knee mobilisation can result in increased pain and swelling which in turn delays mobility and discharge.

'We introduced an innovative rehab protocol, delaying knee flexion, for all patients receiving knee replacement to encourage early mobilisation and early discharge. Between September 2016 and January 2019 1,000 consecutive primary UKRs [uni-compartmental knee replacements] followed this pathway. In total, 46per cent have gone home on the day of surgery and 35 per cent on day one.

'By successfully introducing this pathway, we evolved the method to apply it to all knee replacement operations with a corresponding decrease in the length of stay for  total knee replacements and have demonstrated improvements in productivity, cost savings and patient outcomes.'

Ms Middleton, who was at the awards ceremony in London, said: ‘It was a pleasure and privilege to hear about such great work from allied health professionals and in particular to celebrate with the CSP members that were shortlisted and, of course, won.

‘Sharing best practice is a selfless act.’

This is the third year that NHS England has run the Chief Allied Health Professions Officers Awards, which aim to celebrate the outstanding contribution made by AHPs to improve the health, care and wellbeing of patients and communities.

First contact physiotherapy is ‘common sense’

Speaking after the awards, AHP of the Year award winner Mr Goodwin said he viewed the introduction and rollout of first contact physiotherapy as practical ‘common sense’.

‘Physiotherapists routinely see a cohort of musculoskeletal (MSK) patients, so for them to be able to take the burden of those patients away from GPs seems like an obvious solution. That’s why it’s great that FCP is now part of the GP contract and the NHS Long Term Plan.

‘But my research is concerned with discovering if there are any hidden issues, sitting behind the surface, which might affect whether FCP is implemented to its full capacity and truly has the impact it should have.

‘For instance, if there aren’t enough hours for physiotherapists to see the estimated MSK burden then it’s not going to alleviate some of the pressures on GPs. So, there are some more nuanced issues that we need to shine a light one, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do over the last three years with my PhD research.’

It’s great that first contact physiotherapy is now part of the NHS Long Term Plan

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