Jim Fitzpatrick may be out of step with his Party’s choice of Leader, but he is remarkably in tune with other MPs on the question of physiotherapy provision for people with muscular dystrophy.
Muscular Dystrophy UK, a charity which provides information, advice and support to the 70,000 children and adults in the UK who are living with muscle-wasting conditions – and campaigns for better access to treatment and more research. Last week the charity launched a new report – Overstretched – which revealed that people with muscular dystrophy are finding it to access vital physiotherapy treatment. This treatment can not only help reduce pain and discomfort, it can also help avoid potentially life threatening infections. Around one in five of the people who need it cannot obtain it under the NHS and many are having to pay to have the treatment on a private basis.
Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick met his own constituent – Romina Puma, who has muscular dystrophy – at the launch. Locally, health services are suffering because the Royal London Hospital is having to spend vast amounts of money on the PFI deal with funded its refurbishment. Jim Fitzpatrick was a great supporter of Gordon Brown’s use of PFI deals in the NHS: had he heeded calls from health campaigners about how PFI would leach money out of funds which should be spent on front line services, there may have been more physiotherapy services available.
However, despite his own role in previously cutting back funds available for treatments such as physiotherapy, last week he backed Muscular Dystrophy’s call for improvement, which are:
•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;
•NHS 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.”
Curiously, he chose almost exactly the same words as Nick Thomas-Symonds MP used to comment on the report. Thomas-Symonds, Labour MP for Torfaen, said: “It was deeply concerning to hear from 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.”
Meanwhile campaigners will have to hope that they can somehow persuade a Government to help Trusts which are struggling with unmanageable PFI payments so that public money can be spent on treatments.