Opportunity for physiotherapists to volunteer with St John Ambulance

St John Ambulance in England will open up specific volunteering posts to physiotherapists who can assess, diagnose and treat minor injuries.

​ A St John Ambulance volunteer at the Bristol harbour festival. Photo: St John Ambulance ​

CSP practice and development director Natalie Beswetherick and St John Ambulance (SJA) medical director Lynn Thomas have agreed a Scope of practice for physiotherapists.

It covers

  • what is the purpose of having physiotherapists in SJA uniform?

  • what is the expectation of the role?

  • what are the requirements for the role?

  • how would the role fit into the current SJA structure on events?

  • what additional training/resources would be required?

Lynn Thomas said: ‘We’re delighted to be introducing this new position to our event cover teams at St John Ambulance.

‘Having physiotherapists in the team will increase our ability to provide care at events across the country and deliver the highest standards of public event healthcare.

‘Physiotherapists will be able to provide the expertise needed to assess, treat, and advise on musculoskeletal injuries which should be able to reduce the numbers that are needed to be conveyed elsewhere and improve the experience for thousands of patients across the country and reduce pressure on the NHS.

St John Ambulance medical director Dr Lynn Thomas. Photo: St John Ambulance

‘As the charity that steps forward in the moments that matter to save lives and support communities, our highly trained volunteers keep people safe at events nationwide. We are proud to cover events of all shapes and size – from village fetes, sporting fixtures and carnivals, to major music festivals, Premier League football matches and Royal weddings.

‘Our volunteers are St John’s lifeblood. We would not exist without them and we are proud to be a volunteer-led charity. Volunteering benefits communities as well as empowering individuals and giving them greater self-esteem, employability and life satisfaction.’

Natalie Beswetherick.said: ‘St John Ambulance believes physios will become a key part of the teams they use for a range of events.

'This is an opportunity for our members to extend their knowledge and skills as a physiotherapist dealing with a range of soft tissue injuries, depending on what the fixture is, it could include, people who have runners feet, blisters or just cramp.

‘CSP physios who volunteer for these roles will also be provided with advanced first aid training.’

CSP council chair Alex MacKenzie said: ‘It’s a very positive development. As a profession generally we have a number of people keen on volunteering at amateur sports matches and other events such as the London Marathon.

‘We’re quite keen to get out there and be helping people. This is an opportunity to use skills we’ve got, as we often do on an informal basis such as with family and friends so in some ways it is an extension of that, whilst gaining additional skills too.’

Are you interested in volunteering or have any clinical questions? Contact St John via email at clinical@sja.org.uk


A St John Ambulance volunteer at the Notting Hill carnival in London. Photo: St John Ambulance

SJA has no plans to follow suit in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Meanwhile, are you a physio who already volunteers with SJA?

They are keen to hear from you about what support you need.

Rob Davies is a specialist physiotherapist and CSP regional steward, at Derriford Hospital, a major trauma centre in Plymouth.

He has been a St John Ambulance volunteer for 11 years undertaking numerous roles, and is now an emergency medical technician.

‘I work across a variety of settings, including medical centres and frontline ambulances, providing care to a wide variety of acutely ill patients.

‘However, most of the injuries I treat and advise on tend to be more minor in nature, with lower limb soft tissue injuries being very common.’

Physiotherapist Rob Davies has been a volunteer with SJA for 11 years

Volunteering with SJA is ‘extremely rewarding,’ Mr Davies said, ‘as I have been able to attend numerous high profile music concerts, comedy gigs and lots more - all for free!

‘Additionally I have also been able to use my clinical knowledge and skills to provide holistic care to patients, as well as guidance and support to colleagues including first aiders, doctors, nurses and paramedics.

‘Not only this but I have also gained so many new skills that have been translatable into my NHS clinical setting and have allowed me to provide better patient care and clinical leadership.’

SJA chief operating officer, Richard Lee, said on Twitter: 'Here at @stjohnambulance we are looking to identify all of our #StJohnPeople who are physiotherapists. Making sure you are equipped to practice where your expertise will be a great addition to our multidisciplinary teams.' 

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