'I was blinkered about what made a good clinician', says Connect Health founder as new link emerges
A leading musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapist and businessman has admitted that he has fundamentally overhauled his perspective on what constitutes a ‘good clinician’ in recent years.
Andrew Walton – who founded Connect Health in the late 1980s and now holds the position of group executive director – said his rethink began when he was exposed to a range of professions in his role as a visiting professor at Leeds Beckett University.
Andrew, who took up his professorship in 2015, said: ‘As part of my position at Leeds Beckett I visited different health professions, and I realised I was blinkered about what made a good clinician.
‘My eyes were opened to how complementary professionals – sport rehabilitators, osteopaths, chiropractors and more – could bring new skills to the table that would hugely support our physiotherapists and clinical teams, and ultimately further benefit our patients.’
Link with BASRaT established
Andrew's re-evaluation lies behind Connect Health’s decision to forge links with the Manchester-based British Association of Sport Rehabilitators (BASRaT) and to champion the role of sport rehabilitators.
The Newcastle upon Tyne-based company – the UK’s leading provider of MSK and pain services to the NHS – has employed many more sport rehabilitators since 2021. It has also established multidisciplinary teams and started to classify physiotherapists, for example, as MSK clinicians.
BASRaT’s 1,300 members can now apply for Connect Health’s sport rehabilitation jobs when they are advertised and gain insights on what an MDT career within the sector is really like. Practical advice, training news and guidance are also available.
BASRaT registrar Ollie Coburn said the Connect Health alliance offered members a ‘fantastic opportunity’, adding: ‘The company understands how important sport rehabilitators are within healthcare services, which is evidenced by the growth in sport rehabilitator positions over the past few years. Plus, there is a healthy stream of new vacancies, all of which come with good remuneration packages and excellent career development potential.’
Rehab professionals are 'vital'
Alex Tait, Connect Health’s head of resourcing and people services, said: ‘The need for high quality sports rehabilitators has never been greater. Over one third of the UK population has an MSK disorder and between 30-50 per cent live with chronic pain. Rehab professionals, as part of a multidisciplinary team, play a vital role in helping these patients.’
The Connect Health Academy offers courses on wellbeing, equality and diversity, and leadership management. There are also graduate development and advanced practitioner programmes, clinical inductions and continuing professional development (days.
Alex noted: ‘We offer our teams ongoing support and development, and we pride ourselves on being flexible and inclusive to ensure they can grow in their career and of course make a positive difference to patients’ lives.’
BASRaT member's viewpoint
Hannah Bowra is team lead senior MSK clinician at Connect Health and an BASRaT member. She said: ‘I’m increasingly finding that there is a better understanding of sport rehabilitation/therapy within the MSK physiotherapy community, and it is becoming known that the differences between the titles are minimal. As a result, we are seeing more equal opportunities arise in the clinical/MSK sector.’
Connect Health has contracts with 29 NHS integrated care boards and employs around 500 people in clinical and operational roles.
The association is the UK regulator for sport rehabilitators and advocates on behalf of the multidisciplinary healthcare team. It guides sport rehabilitators on all aspects of their role and responsibilities, ensuring public protection, professional competency and continued professional development.
Author: I A McMillan