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Health Leaders Write to Health Secretary to Demand Greater Focus on Rehabilitation Workforce

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has joined with other members of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance to write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay to ensure that the Government’s upcoming workforce strategy gives particular consideration to the rehabilitation workforce.

The letter, signed by leaders of 34 organisations involved in the delivery of rehabilitation, discusses how its workforce are playing a vital role in tackling patient flow and the elective care backlog – in addition to reducing the revolving door between GP, A&E and social care services. If the Government does not bring forward a national rehabilitation workforce plan then ‘the impact on health will be long-term, and for some, irreversible, deepening inequality and further damaging the economy’ according to leaders.

The letter also highlights that 40% of the population are managing a long-term condition and that these figures are rising. To meet this growing demand, there is a need to increase the rehabilitation workforce capacity.

Karin Orman, RCOT’s Director of Practice and Innovation said:

‘We know the pressures that face the rehabilitation workforce all too well. Our survey of over 500 occupational therapists working in rehab earlier this year gave us a worrying insight, with 82% of respondents reporting an increase in demand for their support and over 70% of our rehab worker respondents indicating that their teams were not sufficiently resourced to meet demand.

‘We need a workforce plan for rehabilitation that can increase staffing levels and ease the pressure on an exhausted workforce. Occupational therapists working, not only in the NHS but also in social care, are vital in getting people out of acute settings and supporting people in their communities. Safe staffing levels are therefore essential to provide effective and timely rehabilitation to those that need it.’