There was a BBC headline that caught my eye not too long ago: “Athletics doping: What happens if trust goes out of sport?”* It was about the results of an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but it could have been about your profession. It could have been physiotherapists.
I have to quote the next part, because it resonated so loudly for me: “… sport is not getting the governance it deserves. Governance is a dull word…. (but) it is critical, and it is critical that it is done right, because otherwise we are all being cheated. Sportspeople are being swindled of their careers, of their reputations, of their future. Us sports lovers are being defrauded of our trust, our emotional energy and our financial largesse.”
This is exactly how I feel about regulating physiotherapy.
So many of you are amazing. You put your patients first. You work extremely hard to fit one more person into your busy schedules. You assess carefully and you reassess regularly. You bill fairly. Your advertising is truthful and classy. You keep on top of new developments in treatment options and other knowledge. You don’t advise patients to come in for sessions that you know that they don’t really need.
And then there are the few who cut corners in treatment, breach the standards and break the law.
It’s true that governance is a dull word (not to me, but I understand how you might feel that way), but it’s critical that that we do it right because those of you who are great practitioners are at risk of losing your reputation.
Our standard setting, quality management and professional conduct activities are your insurance against encroachment of the swindlers.
As we hear more and more stories about overuse of physiotherapist assistants, failure to engage in continuing professional development, insurance fraud and new grads who can’t find jobs where they are not expected to break the rules, good regulation is more important than ever if you want your profession to retain its reputation as a caring discipline with a unique and essential skill set and body of knowledge, stand behind regulation.
Do something about it. Report colleagues you honestly believe are failing to meet their professional obligations. Participate in public consultations. Get involved with the College Council or join your professional association.
Participation is another way that you can protect patients because if they don’t feel like they can trust your profession, they will stop coming to see you.
One more quote I want to share – let me know if you see the parallel to physiotherapy:
“Sport only survives if we all keep coming back. We come back because we believe in it. If that trust goes, everything else falls with it.”