Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick has backed the calls of a national charity to urgently boost access to physiotherapy in London, to help constituents missing out on vital care, and suffering through this dangerous lack of access.
At Parliament on 19 July, Jim Fitzpatrick met constituent Romina Puma, who has muscular dystrophy, and joined fellow MPs and Peers to launch Muscular Dystrophy UK’s hard-hitting report, Overstretched. The report highlights a massive black hole in physiotherapy access across the country for the estimated 70,000 people with muscle-wasting conditions.
For people with such conditions, physiotherapy can reduce pain and discomfort, while minimising the development of deformities. In some cases it can keep patients walking for longer. Access to a respiratory physiotherapist also allows for vital cough assist equipment to be used, which can reduce the risk of chest infections and can even avoid lives being tragically cut short.
The report found that 60% of individuals with muscle-wasting conditions are unable to access appropriate physiotherapy for their condition. As a result, one in five local patients, many of whom can afford it least, are being forced to pay up to £6,000 a year for private treatment. Patients suffer from NHS policy which rations physiotherapy to six-week blocks, meaning people with muscle-wasting conditions that do gain access miss out on long-term benefits, and gain little from the treatment at all.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, along with Muscular Dystrophy UK is calling for:
- Hospitals and NHS commissioners to act on NHS England’s guidelines to ensure a specialist physiotherapist is available locally for people with muscle-wasting conditions.
- Trusts to work to ensure that patients with muscle-wasting conditions can have access to physiotherapy when they need it, at a clinically appropriate time to allow them maximum benefit.
- Trusts to work to increase provision of community physiotherapy.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:
“It was deeply concerning to hear from Romina and other people with muscle-wasting conditions in Parliament about the difficulties they are facing in accessing physiotherapy. They are desperately in need of better access to ongoing physiotherapy that could make all the difference to their health.”
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“We are really grateful to have the support of Jim Fitzpatrick on such a crucial issue. Our national report revealed a bleak picture of people struggling from a lack of access to a physiotherapist across the country. We urge NHS bosses across the UK to boost physiotherapy provision, and to ensure ongoing access that would relieve patients from needless pain and suffering, while saving the health service precious millions.”