By Gill Rawlinson, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Earlier this year I was proud to win the Advancing Healthcare FPH and PHE Award for contributions to public health for our innovative service which embedded NHS health checks and diabetes checks within NHS physiotherapy services in Salford.
The project, which was funded by Salford CCG’s innovation fund, allowed us to take a more focussed approach on embedding health promotion principles with the aim of supporting our patients with musculoskeletal problems to make positive lifestyle changes.
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust provides physiotherapy services to some of the most deprived parts of England where health inequalities are large and health and lifestyle factors contribute greatly to ill health and premature mortality. From the initial project aims of creating a culture where patient’s health and lifestyle was central to their care, and where physiotherapists were encouraged to support behaviour change with individuals, the project quickly grew and partnerships developed with both public health at Salford City Council and the Salford National Diabetes Prevention Project (NDPP).
This allowed us to share our common goals and work collaboratively to deliver NHS health checks and diabetes check within routine physiotherapy appointments, the first service of its kind in England. This approach not only puts public health principles and prevention at the core of clinical assessment, but allows the opportunistic delivery of supportive interventions, such as motivational interviewing, at a time when patients are seeking help with a health problem and are often keen to make positive behaviour changes.
Helen Slee, Project Manager for the Salford NDPP, supported me to collect data which facilitated the identification of eligible patients and to collate a health profile of our patients. This data allows us to record our public health interventions and to evaluate our impact as a public health workforce. The project supports the Five Year Forward View NHS England strategy which challenges us all to put prevention at the heart of what we do and also illustrates the use of physiotherapists and wider Allied Health Professionals as an untapped public health workforce. Since the pilot project we have been supported by our Public Health team and Salford CCG to develop and scale up the project. We plan to evaluate the data further and publish the findings in the coming months.
Winning this award has allowed me opportunities to share and disseminate our project with many other organisations across the country.
It has also allowed me to meet many other people with a passion for public health who want to change things for the better, including leaders in AHP services and quality improvement. Most importantly it gave welcome appreciation and recognition to our many staff who embraced change and challenges to deliver an improved service, supporting our patients to live longer and healthier lives.
Why not think about entering for the award this year to share your great public health practice and celebrate your team’s successes? You never know where it may lead!