Gateshead Health launches new occupational health physiotherapy service for staff

The Trust has recently employed a physiotherapist to work within Occupational Health to provide a rapid access service for staff with musculoskeletal issues.

John Paul Gowland promoting new service at a stall in QE Hospital

The Trust has recently employed a physiotherapist to work within Occupational Health to provide a rapid access service for staff with musculoskeletal issues.

John Paul Gowland joined the Trust in 2008 and has worked in a number of positions within the physiotherapy department. Over his career, he has gained extensive experience across a wide range of clinical areas including work with sports teams and in local NHS services.

John Paul said “I have worked within the Trust for 16 years in various positions and I was delighted to have been offered this new role late last year.

“What I enjoy most about being a physiotherapist is meeting people daily and helping them deal with their musculoskeletal issues. When the Occupational Health role was advertised, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me as I was seeking a new challenge within the trust.

“The new Occupational Health Physiotherapy service aims to offer a fast-track physiotherapy service to all staff with musculoskeletal issues to help keep them fit, healthy and happy at work.

“It was a daunting task at first to set up the new service however the Occupational Health and Wellbeing team have been great in helping me settle in as well as helping me provide a service that the staff here at Gateshead Health deserve.

“The new service was officially launched in January and has proved to be very popular so far. Over 60 staff members accessed the service in January alone. Patients can self-refer to our service, but I can also get referrals from the wider hospital teams after staff members have had surgery for example.

“I also work very closely with other members of the Occupational Health Team and we often support staff members together. As part of the service role, our staff were asked to provide feedback on what they wanted from the new physiotherapy service.

“As a direct result of this survey a back pain rehabilitation class has been established to help support staff at work with their back pain. The sessions that are held in the Staff Listening Space have been a big hit so far.

“Exercise along with healthy eating, drinking and smoking less are the keys to enable us to live a long and healthy life which is why we created a self-help section on the Gateshead Balance Website’.

“The Gateshead Balance website has a new physiotherapy section where you can find everything you need to know about musculoskeletal issues whether it be back pain or a twisted ankle. There is also information on the NHS Staff weight loss programme as well as advice on smoking cessation and links to discounted exercise opportunities in the region.

“Average waiting times for the service are around one week but same day telephone consultations are available for urgent cases. Our aim is to offer a responsive, forward thinking, approachable Occupational Health and Wellbeing Service, to support our colleagues to provide the best care for our local community.

“I am looking forward to developing the physiotherapy service over the next few months and years to help meet this aim.”

One recent attendee of the back class said, ‘The sessions have been really interesting, not only do we do exercises with John Paul, but we also learn about our back pain which has helped me be less scared to exercise and live my life’.

For more information on how to access the physiotherapy service please visit the Gateshead Balance Website.