Concern for the Hijacked Mouse MADAM - M r White's letter (August, page 459) eloquently voiced my concern that my professional Society is being used to mount what appears to be a politically motivated campaign against the White Paper. Do we as a profession want t o be hijacked by activists intent more on attacking the Government than improving patient care? The White Paper is an outline proposal aimed at improving the NHS. The majority of attacks o n it are not based on facts but are distorted interpretations, such as money will not be available for drugs, old people will not receive treatment, etc, etc. The most blatantly ridiculous misinformation being proclaimed by the activists is that the essential principle of the NHS, ie free health care at the point of delivery, will be undermined. They ignore the fact that thiswould be political suicide and, therefore, unacceptable t o any party in power. We appear t o be sinking into a campaign similar t o the BMAs, based upon half-truths. For example, in the June 'Proceedings of Council' Mr Gilchrist 'invents' a White Paper outcome that self-governing hospitals will destroy the grading system! Change is always uncomfortable, but without it h o w can we progress and improve? We have complained many times about how the NHS is run, therefore instead of mounting a campaign of destructive criticism, w e should be grasping the opportunity t o negotiate - within the framework of the White Paper details which will ensure a better quality of health care. Regardless of -what the activists are shouting there are many good points on which to build, for example greater emphasis
on prevention, medical auditing and more consultants. We should try t o prevent the propaganda activists from winning the battle but losing the war. The Government will introduce the reforms and I believe the best way t o maximise them is by constructive dialogue, not personalised attacks such as the BMA has n o w resorted to. Therefore I hope that the CSP, through this Journal, will encourage a balanced debate t o ensure improved patient care. MARGARET McGEE MCSP Hoylake, Wirral Toby Simon,
The Society's White Paper campaign is based o n Council policy and a careful evaluation of the changes set out in the White Paper. The policy is very strongly supported by CSP members as was clearly demonstrated b y the votes at the Society's Annual Representatives Meeting last month. The aim is to achieve significant changes to those proposals in rhe White Paper which will damage patient care and the profession. We share that aim w i t h almost all health care professional organisations and patient groups. The 75% of the public who also oppose the White Paper, according to opinion pools, d o n o t form a minority of activists. Self governing hospitals will be given the right under the White Paper proposals to change the grading system or introduce a n e w one. Therefore Mr Gilchrist's statement in Council was entirely correct.
Destruction of an Opportunity M A D A M - When confronted w i t h the leaflet distributed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy depicting the 'Destruction cf the National Health Service by the Government' my reactions were of shock and horror at the scene of violence before m y eyes. This soon turned into anger and disappointment. Anger :hat the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, a supposedly responsible and professional body, should print and circulate such horrific propaganda on behalf of its members without prior consultation with them. Imagine people's reactions i n physiotherapy departments and waiting rooms when faced w i t h such scenes. The majority of patients confronted with these posters will not have read the detailed information in the White Paper and are therefore dependent on the media for their knowledge. If the CSP intends t o disseminate information t o the general public it should be of a balanced nature, not propaganda in such a crude form. It is biased, unbalanced and unrepresentative and I believe unworthy of a professional body which should be above party politics. And disappointment, at such a missed opportunity. Here was a chance for the CSP truly to promote physiotherapy; to rise above political issues, t o market the profession and t o educate the general public. An opportunity t o ensure that as a profession
w e are complementary t o medicine and not supplementary t o it. The Society should have picked out some of the good points in the White Paper, especially those related t o preventive medicine and health care, and used these t o form the framework for a wonderful
marketing exercise on the values and benefits of physiotherapy. The major illnesses and diseases affecting the western world are those that are selfinflicted such as dietary diseases, heart disease, stress-related problems, lung disease and musculoskeletal disorders due t o poor posture and inactivity, t o name a few. As well as treating these disorders we should be teaching and educating people t o prevent them in a much more aggressive way than we are doing at present. Many physiotherapists are quietly doing good work in these spheres w i t h the introduction of back schools, relaxation and stress relief classes, fitness classes, cardiac rehabilitation and the like. Surely w i t h the aid of appropriate marketing, and modern technology such as videos, tapes and booklets, we should be able t o launch a superb programme t o show the way forward in preventive health care. The use of videos, groups and small classes are very economic ways of using resources and could easily be p u t into action i n physiotherapy departments, GP surgeries, schools, and places of work. If physiotherapists led by the Chartered Society do not move forward quickly I suspect that other marketing entrepreneurs will be quick to cash in on the benefits we can provide and w e will then have a fragmented profession instead of a strong, respected, forward thinking Society. JACQUIE SCOTT MCSP Haslemere Surrey Stuart Skyte, CSP director o f public relations, replies: CouncilS views o n the NHS White Paper were based on members' views. Should the Society really respond in a neutral way to something which, on the whole, it considers will damage patient care? Finally, Mrs Scott's views o n the importance of prevention will be shared b y all me,mbers; unfortunately, there i s next to nothing in the White Paper on prevention.
Below: Front and back of the campaign leaflet, which is printed in red and black
Physiotherapists care about the future of the NHS Chaneted physiolherapisls arc very concerned abour the ettects 01 the Government s plans tor the NHS While some 01 lheir proposals may improve things the Vast majority are likely to damage palienl care In some cases servcces that exist now may dfsappear or access to them may be limited Instead 01 providing more physiolherap 515 and other vital health Care professionals the Government s plans will mean more bureaucrats and more accountants How will 1 000 extra accounlants improve the qualily 01 care or reduce waiting lisIs7 Instead 01 looking after the health needs 01 the whole communily the Service could be fragmented as hospitals which opt out may choose l(itreal only those condilions lhal can be relieved quickly We believe lhat patients needs should dictate the tieatmenl lhey receive not their ability 10 pay or travel long distances Patlents and carers will make up their own minds about thc Gov ernment s plans Chartered Physiolherapisls are clear about the plans lhey will damage the qualily 01 Care we are able lo oltef and lhey will begin Ihe process 01 breakinq up lhe NHS That 1s why we oppose them
Physiotherapy, October 1989, vol 75, no 70