The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) has welcomed the publication of the ten-year plan for NHS England, which it says places a high priority on the use of physiotherapy to improve patient outcomes.
Among the details that have pleased the CSP are a promise to increase the number of first contact physiotherapists roles and an increase in access to rehabilitation for people suffering from a range of questions.
The CSP said the new proposals match those suggested by the CSP when it was consulted as the plan was being drafted.
A key feature of the 134-page document is the use of earlier intervention to reduce the number of people needing to go to hospital in the first place. This may be of particular relevance to physiotherapists as earlier treatment by them of conditions may prevent situations deteriorating to the point where surgery is required.
CSP chief executive Prof Karen Middleton said: "This is a very encouraging plan for the NHS, the physiotherapy profession and for our patients.
"It marks the clear shift towards providing services in the community that we have long called-for, and places an emphasis on prevention.
"It explicitly sets out the integral role physiotherapy staff, including first contact physiotherapists, will make in delivering this transformation."
She added that it was also particularly important that the document has established rehabilitation targets across a range of conditions, which will help to "focus minds when designing and commissioning services".
The professor acknowledged that there are some outstanding concerns and unanswered questions, including staffing matters and funding for social care, but declared that there is still "a lot to like" about the plan.
Social care is not part of the document and the government is yet to publish a green paper outlining proposals on how to deal with the issue.
Details of how the NHS intends to step up recruitment will also be published later this year. Absence of this detail from the plan has already drawn criticism, with acting chair of the Royal College of Nursing Dame Donna Kinnair describing the commitments to boosting staff numbers as "vague".
Written by Matthew Horton
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