Jennifer Keane, currently the chief allied health professions officer for Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, will be the first to take up the newly created role of director of hospital discharge and rehabilitation at NHS England in December.
She will be responsible for work on rehabilitation and discharges, as well as other areas covered by NHS Continuing Healthcare and the Better Care Fund. She will manage a team of around 60 people and report to NHSE’s director of community health, Matthew Winn.
The creation of the role was heralded as a step towards bringing about necessary changes and investment in community rehabilitation - the core aim of the CSP-initiated Community Rehabilitation Alliance – an alliance of approximately 50 charities and professional bodies who are all committed to improving commissioning, planning and delivery of rehabilitation.
Chief executive of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Karen Middleton said the appointment had the ‘potential to bring urgently needed improvements to rehab services’.
She continued, ‘Jenny is well-placed to make a success of this key role, with her strong commitment to the value of rehab, and the breadth of her strategy and policy experience.
‘Her leadership experience in key roles across healthcare have given her a keen grasp of the challenges and opportunities involved in working towards more integrated, multidisciplinary care for patients.
That experience will be vital in in addressing record levels of unmet rehab needs and putting the right staffing and skills in place to support patients, families and carers.
'Jenny’s appointment is well deserved, and we look forward to continuing our good working relationship with her at this crucial time for health services.'
Ms Keane, who originally trained as a therapeutic radiographer, took up her current role in 2019, when the NI Assembly had just been reconvened after a three year hiatus and shortly before the start of the pandemic.
CSP public affairs and policy manager Tom Sullivan said. ‘From the beginning she established strong relationships and regular meetings with all the professional bodies and developed effective partnership working with the professional heads of service who were on the frontline and having to adapt to new ways of working at short notice.
‘It’s a tribute to her leadership and organisational abilities that she was able to establish and build on those relationships and deliver a number of service improvements over the time that she was at the Department. The Nightingale intermediate Covid-19 care facility, led by a team of highly skilled and experienced Advanced Nursing and Allied Health practitioners, being a prime example of that. The Minister of Health commented at the time that he was, “very impressed that it has been so rapidly established”.
‘Jenny was able to do a remarkable amount in the short time she was in post not least increasing the number of physio undergraduate places at Ulster University by more than 40 per cent. I’ve no doubt she will bring the same energy and enthusiasm to her new role.’
Previous roles included lead allied health professional for Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency and as an AHP consultant, providing advice on the commissioning of services and developing AHP educational and training programmes and campaigns. She also led on the roll out of supplementary and independent prescribing for AHPs across Northern Ireland.
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