June 5, 2023, by brzam5
Rehabilitation Matters: How the National Rehabilitation Centre can be a flagship for the UK
Rehabilitation Matters is a series of stories and perspectives from people who care about effective clinical rehabilitation and the benefits it provides. Here, Dr Manoj Sivan, National Advisor to the NRC and President of the British Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (BSPRM), shares his thoughts on how the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) can be the flagship centre for rehabilitation in the UK.
The UK lags behind our European counterparts in terms of workforce numbers for the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine. We have one-tenth of the workforce (per unit population) when compared to most developed European countries including France, Italy and Germany. This no doubt has an impact on our influence as a medical specialty to improve rehabilitation care for many long-term conditions.
But through the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) – and in particular the focus on bringing together high-quality clinical care, research, and training and education all under one roof – we have an incredible opportunity to deliver a step change in our approach to rehabilitation in the NHS.
Improving the rehabilitation workforce
I am President of the British Society of Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine (BSPRM) and I’m honoured to have been made National Advisor to the NRC Board. As part of this role, I am focused on forging the link between the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Society and the NRC. I’m excited at what we can deliver together as ultimately we are all focused on the same goal – to improve rehabilitation workforce and the services we can offer to get more people back to work and function after serious illness or injury.
There are many opportunities where we can work together to advance this ambition but I wanted to pick up on two areas which I see are particularly promising – workforce training and clinical research.
In terms of our workforce, we have over 350 members in the BSPRM. The UK’s leading doctors in Rehabilitation Medicine are members, and we also have some Allied Health Professional (AHPs) and other disciplines. Our members will be at the forefront of delivering the world-class treatment that the NRC aims to provide, helping it be a flagship centre for rehabilitation in the UK. But we need more of these experts, and through the society I believe we can help to plug that gap, assisting with upskilling and training new experts in rehabilitation who will be the future leaders in our health service. Our international collaborations too will enable better training opportunities and exchange fellowships with others centres of excellence overseas.
Clinical research is another area where the NRC can help to drive excellence. Too often the health service operates in silos and the great academic work that scientists do does not get rapidly translated and impact patient care. Clinical academics can make this translation quicker and easier – that’s why the NRC’s focus on integrating the clinical and academic spaces together will be inspiring for clinicians and transformational for rehabilitation research.
The academic partnership led by the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University is already delivering promising results and I’ve been hearing about exciting new rehabilitation technologies and approaches that are being developed through collaborative projects. I look forward to a pool of clinical academics thriving in such a research-active environment.
The NRC will benefit from the expertise in various Special Interest Groups of the Society (Spinal Cord Injury, Musculoskeletal, Amputee, Trauma, Rehabilitation Technology) and our Research Network and collaborations with the Society for Research in Rehabilitation (SRR), while the NRC is already represented in the Editorial Board of ‘Advances in Rehabilitation Science and Practice’ a new SAGE PubMed journal our Society is affiliated with. The insights from the NRC will be invaluable and I’m excited to work together to raise the profile of rehabilitation.
I truly believe we can adopt the international rehabilitation model in the UK and, akin to our European neighbours, become a world leader in rehabilitation. The NRC will be at the centre of this ambition.
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