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Access to high-quality rehab must improve

Governments across the UK must improve access to high-quality rehabilitation services or risk further entrenching health inequities faced by millions of people from marginalised groups, according to a new report from the Chartered Society Of Physiotherapists.(CSP)

We desperately need a modernised recovery and rehabilitation service that adequately supports patients following a health crisis and prevents other conditions developing

Prof Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP

The ‘Easing the Pain’ report outlines how people in marginalised groups and communities, such as those from ethnic minorities, are not only more likely to live shorter lives but spend a greater proportion of their lives struggling with health difficulties and disabilities. Vital services that could tackle those inequities are either unavailable or poorly equipped to meet their needs. The report finds that:

  • Prevention campaigns are badly targeted and referral rates for those who do develop a health condition are inconsistent.
  • At every stage marginalised communities face barriers to accessing high-quality recovery and rehabilitation services, including through societal discrimination, lack of cultural competence or communication barriers.
  • A lack of consistent data is damaging the ability of health services to provide rehabilitation that meets needs.
  • Without high-quality rehabilitation a patient experiences a downward spiral. The prevalence of one long term condition can often lead to multiple conditions.

The report highlights how this has serious implications for efforts in the four UK countries to tackle the health inequities exposed by the Covid pandemic. Without quality rehabilitation, people can be stuck in a vicious downward spiral which affects their ability to work, where they can afford to live, quality of housing, levels of debt, how active they are in their community and whether they become socially isolated. This not only harms the individual but has a detrimental impact on local economies with poor health of the workforce having a direct effect on productivity.

Prof Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said:

“Rehabilitation services have been under-resourced for decades and were not designed coherently in the first place. This has exacerbated poor health outcomes, particularly for people from marginalised groups. As it stands, it’s not only the individual who suffers. Without adequate access to rehabilitation, health conditions worsen to the point where more and more pressure is eventually piled on struggling local health systems and other public services. We desperately need a modernised recovery and rehabilitation service that adequately support patients following a health crisis and prevents other conditions developing.”

The report calls on all UK governments to fulfil their commitments to address inadequate rehabilitation services and disparities in healthy life expectancy, and makes recommendations to ensure rehabilitation services and health inequity plans are developed and implemented with the priority they require.

The report has been supported and endorsed by members of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance (CRA), which includes SIA.

Chartered Society Of Physiotherapists