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British academics team with ICRC to improve physiotherapy care 

Two Teesside University physiotherapist academics are working with a leading international humanitarian organisation to ensure that victims of conflict and natural disasters have access to optimal standards of physiotherapy care amid challenging conditions.

Anne Binks, Professor Liz Holey and Barbara Rau

Professor Liz Holey and Anne Binks have been commissioned by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to develop, in collaboration with their physiotherapists, a set of standards for physiotherapy that the organisation can implement across over 100 physiotherapy projects it supports around the world.

Professor Holey, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University and Anne, a Principal Lecturer in Physiotherapy in the University’s School of Health & Social Care, have had a number of contracts to work out how to measure the quality and impact of physiotherapy. This has involved developing standards of practice that can be met in the most challenging of circumstances on rehabilitation projects in Gaza, Afghanistan and Iraq, among other places.

Some of the work has taken place in Geneva, where Anne and Liz collaborated with the ICRC’s physiotherapy lead Barbara Rau. Regular consultation with colleagues working in the field has been a valuable part of the work.

Workshops, reports, a gap analysis and implementation plan have led to outcomes which will be shared at the World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress in Singapore in May this year. The next stage is to develop a series of tools to support implementation of the standards and the measurement of quality achieved.

Professor Holey said: “This is an extremely interesting and challenging project, which we hope will have an impact on the quality of patient care and enable its reliable measurement to provide evidence of what physiotherapists can achieve under the most challenging of circumstances.”

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