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September 2020
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NHS Trusts turn to Physio Med to support staff wellbeing – occupational physiotherapy helps reduce sickness absence

Occupational physio

Occupational physio

Two NHS Trusts in the North of England have turned to Physio Med, one of the UK’s leading physiotherapy providers, to help improve the health of staff and reduce levels of sickness absence.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust have both awarded contracts to Physio Med after successful trial periods.

Through working with Physio Med since 2009, the Employee Health and Wellbeing department at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust has made fast track access to physiotherapy available to the 2,800 staff at Bradford District Care Trust and another 1,200 at Incommunities.

Bradford District Care Trust reported a 60 per cent increase in productivity among staff who received treatment in 2013. The patients, including school and district nurses, social workers, and healthcare support workers, also reported an average reduction in pain of 68 per cent.

At Incommunities, which is one of the largest social housing providers in Yorkshire and the Humber, productivity amongst the staff treated by Physio Med  increased by 31% and they reported a 64% reduction in pain.

Joanne Hoban, Acting Head of Service at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The employees at Incommunities and Bradford District Care Trust all provide vital community services and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure they are fighting fit and able to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

“By the nature of many of the roles within those organisations the employees can be susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries and in fact across the two organisations approximately two thirds of those employees who sought treatment had conditions that were work related or work aggravated. By working with Physio Med we are able to provide fast track access to physio treatment and help them to reduce the pain of these conditions and get back to work as quickly as possible so we are delighted to be able to continue to provide this service.”

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s 3,500 staff provide inpatient and community mental health services and learning disability, drug and alcohol and other community services, across Cheshire and Wirral, plus some specialist services in Liverpool, Warrington and Halton.

The nature of the services provided mean that many of the job roles are physically demanding and the in-house physiotherapy service provided by the Trust was under increased demand, with some staff suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) waiting more than two weeks for an appointment. This led to employees being absent from work and others working at reduced levels of productivity.

After a successful trial the Trust asked Physio Med to implement a service providing fast-track access to physiotherapy in order to promote staff health and wellbeing, improve productivity and reduce sickness absence.

Any employee who suffers a musculoskeletal injury or disorder (MSD) can be referred to Physio Med by their line manager. The employee is then contacted within four working hours by Physio Med’s award winning Physiotherapy Advice Line (PAL) service, for telephone triage to ensure they are clinically appropriate for treatment, and then has an initial assessment call with a Senior Chartered Physiotherapistwithin a few working days, which incorporates a series of evidence-based clinical questions and series of movements to facilitate diagnosis. The employee is then either advised on the best way to self-manage the condition to assist the healing process or referred for face-to-face treatment.

The initial trial found that approximately 62% of Cheshire and Wirral employees that have used the service successfully self-managed their condition without the need for face-to-face treatment, with remainder being referred for face-to-face treatment within Physio Med’s network of approved practitioners in a timely manner.

Andrea Snagg, Head of Occupational Health at Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “From healthcare and nursing staff that can face quite physically demanding situations, to estates and domestic teams, and even admin staff, they are all at risk of suffering MSDs and we need to help them back to full fitness as quickly as possible to enable us to provide services to patients.

“We benchmarked our in-house provision against Physio Med’s PAL service and the initial results have been really positive. 85 per cent of those who report an MSD are still in work when they are referred which can have a huge effect on productivity so being able to give them timely access to treatment and helping them return quickly to full fitness is a huge benefit to the Trust.”

Mark Fletcher, Clinical Director of Physio Med, said: “Evidence shows early physiotherapy intervention on musculoskeletal injuries can prevent acute conditions becoming chronic, promote swifter recovery and return to the workplace and improve productivity levels. By providing fast-track access to physiotherapy to employees these Trusts are demonstrating commitment to ensuring their health and wellbeing and we are delighted to be playing a role in that.”

Physio Med has a UK-wide network of 2,500 senior Chartered Physiotherapists in 780 approved practices and received the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Clinical Excellence Award in 2012.

For further information about how Physio Med works with clients visit

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