February 9, 2023

Physiotherapists have warned that patients are becoming increasingly disabled and depressed due to a lack of NHS rehabilitation services.

Amputees are among those who wait months for care, with some people being treated in closets and hallways due to a shortage of proper rooms, it is alleged.

Meanwhile, stroke survivors are “locked at home with a bed and changing table” while they wait to be seen, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy added.

Long waits increase the need for health and social care for many patients and increase the risk of hospitalization or readmission.

Physiotherapists have warned patients are becoming increasingly disabled and depressed due to a lack of NHS rehabilitation services

The pressure of having to work in these poor conditions is also taking its toll on staff: 87 percent report low morale, 70 percent more stress and 58 percent want to quit their job.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy gathered responses from members reporting cuts to services in more than 100 areas, including more than half of all health boards and trusts in the UK.

These cuts are taking the form of rehab clinics being withdrawn from services during the pandemic and not being returned or being replaced by ‘inappropriate’ alternative facilities.

Some of these new rooms lack heating and running water or are located in areas that patients cannot reach.

Nearly three-quarters of physio staff (73 percent) said they can’t provide the rehab services their patients need and half (50 percent) say the loss of rehab space means they see fewer patients each week.

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Nearly half (46 percent) say it has led to a worse quality of life for patients due to physical pain and immobility.

It also leads patients to have poorer mental health, such as depression and anxiety (33 percent), more disability (38 percent), and a higher chance of being hospitalized again in the future (37 percent).

Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said: ‘We hear devastating stories of physiotherapists having to provide vital rehabilitation in corridors and storage facilities.

“Rehab gyms critical to treating heart, stroke and amputee patients were repurposed during the pandemic, but never returned.

“You can draw a direct line between these decisions and ambulances lining up for the emergency room and patients then trapped in the hospital.

“Without quality rehabilitation – in the hospital or in the community – patients do not recover as well as they should, or experience a serious deterioration in their condition, and this only puts greater strain on those parts of the system that are already struggling. to have. ‘

An East Midlands NHS physiotherapist, who graduated in 1994 and specializes in neurological physiotherapy, said: ‘The health foundation tried to take the stroke gym away, but that’s like taking an operating room away from a surgeon.

“Since covid I have seen patients develop secondary complications from the lack of therapy – symptoms such as spasticity, which I have not seen since the 90s prior to stroke guidelines.

“Too many people are currently locked up in one room at home with a hospital bed and changing table.”

A London-based physiotherapist specializing in trauma and neurological disorders said: ‘We lost both gyms where we delivered our rehabilitation programs to patients at the start of the pandemic, and more than 2 years later we were still fighting to get it back.

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“Our gyms contain vital equipment to support our patients in recovery, as well as to support us in providing care to our patients.

“For example, it helps me deal with a 15-stone man who’s had a stroke so we can make sure he’s doing exercises that are critical to his function recovery.”