Physiotherapy service saves NHS cash through faster staff recoveries

Friday 5th October 2018
A physiotherapist is helping NHS staff in Sheffield get back to work sooner.
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A private physiotherapy provider has helped an NHS trust save money by getting injured staff fit and able to work again sooner.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Trust brought Physio Med on board last year and, according to the firm's own figures, between February last year and January this year, employees using their services reported an average pain reduction rate of 58 per cent and a typical increase in productivity of 64 per cent.

Speaking to Frontline Magazine, Physio Med physiotherapist Shalini Sapru explained how she worked with staff, stating: "Any staff member at the hospital can contact us via their manager if they’re suffering a musculoskeletal injury or disorder. 

"We then call them within a maximum of four hours for a telephone triage to determine if we can treat them over the phone or if they need to referral for face-to-face treatment."

She added that after phone assessment, she helps staff self-manage their conditions with "individually tailored exercise programmes" that they can see on their smartphones or tablets. 

Exercises include advice on issues such as posture, symptomatic relief and also changing the working day to reduce strain on injuries. 

Ms Sapru said this is helping staff return to work sooner, a point that was backed up by Jane Clawson, deputy director of human resources and organisational development at the hospital. 

The trust estimates it has saved £198,000 so far, by factoring in the reduction in absence time and the comparison between the average wait for NHS physiotherapy of 71.5 days and the swift attention they are getting via Physio Med. 

While the NHS is about to receive a major cash injection, the need to keep costs down will remain important and staff absenteeism is a problem for it, like any major organisation.

According to data published by NHS Digital early last year - at the very time when Physio Med was starting its role with Sheffield Children’s NHS Trust - 16.4 million days are lost to the NHS a year through staff absence, costing £1 billion.

Written by Matthew Horton

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