‘My experiences within the CSP have given me the confidence to become more involved in service development and patient experience and I have also been incredibly lucky to have supportive managers who have encouraged me to do that and be the voice for physiotherapy assistants.
Representing you: Steph Heasley
‘I have been an employee of the Belfast Trust for approximately 18 years as a physiotherapy assistant and I have been a member of the CSP for approximately 16 years. In that time I have been involved in various groups within the CSP. I have represented Associates over three terms on CSP Northern Ireland Board, represented Northern Ireland on the Industrial Relations Committee and Communication and Marketing group. I became a steward approximately six years go and more recently, was elected as regional steward rep, and I am now an elected representative on the Employment Committee of the CSP.’
I was not sure if I could even be a CSP steward, be accepted as a CSP steward or would have the understanding and knowledge to perform in that role, however, the CSP were fantastic at providing information, support, encouragement, and training so I could fulfil the responsibilities of the role. The introduction to the many networks and contacts at the CSP gave me further opportunities to learn and progress in my post and as a steward.
I feel PTAs have a lot more to offer to the physiotherapy service and they should have the opportunity to progress further with a robust in-service training program and the availability of appropriate courses that will enhance clinical skills and give more scope to PTAs.
We have a small group of PTA band 4 staff in Northern Ireland and they are leading the way of how beneficial it is to have experienced PTAs in their service. We are a skilful, knowledgeable, and diverse group of staff who can pick up new skills and adjust to new ways of working.
Covid has paved the way for changes and the upskilling of PTAs should be a part of that. We know services may not return to how they were pre Covid and this may be the time to look at the physiotherapy assistant staff group and see how we can develop them further.
We should not have to look at a glass ceiling for many years with no hope of moving further or having to look outside of the service to progress a career – especially if you have spent many years in the service. Retention of this staff group is crucial but health boards and government agencies need to provide the funding and support to achieve this. My fear is the PTA role will not be utilised fully to support the services if we do not act now in the rebuilding of services.’
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