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The Independent Sector and a Workforce Under Pressure

by Nikki Thompson

When the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) published their Workforce Survey Report which highlighted the challenges OTs are facing, namely in their profession and workplaces, and how this affected both the services being delivered and the OTs themselves, it concluded:

  • Clinical teams are not big enough to cope with demand. Therefore, the services being provided are not meeting people’s needs and standards of care are being compromised.
  • The public are waiting over 12 months to access services and this delay in intervention means 79% of people present with complex needs they wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • Over a third of respondents said they intended to leave current their roles within the next two years.

Now, as an OT myself and founder of The OT Practice – the UK’s largest independent OT company – I feel it is great that RCOT are proactively reaching out to OTs to question the changing professional landscape. Indeed, it is excellent to read that the passion for OT and delivering high-quality care remains. Most indisputably, I feel the report signals what must now be embraced: the support of the public sector by the independent.

At the nucleus of The OT Practice is the delivery of gold standard client-centred therapy to people across all sectors that a) alleviates the pressures of long waiting lists and the subsequent perpetuation of deteriorating health conditions, and b) provides OTs with a refreshing and fulfilling caseload that keeps them in the profession. In recent years, we have seen an increased number of OTs who are frustrated that their ‘work settings don’t permit them to practice in a way that best uses their OT skills and expertise’ and are increasingly interested in what private practice has to offer. However, not wanting to step away from the public sector completely, our OTs work alongside their public health roles as independent practitioners, where they may work on a project to help clear another organisation’s waiting lists or assisting with hospital discharge. Together with our therapists, we have closed over 5,000 public sector cases in the last 18 months. By working collaboratively with institutions like the NHS, we serve the public sector and simultaneously support therapists as independent practitioners to be the OTs they want to be.

As a company, we are concerned by the third of OTs wanting to leave the profession and instead provide an alternative, enabling OTs to deliver the input they want to, meeting the individual needs of clients – be this privately or through collaboration with other sectors. I am extremely proud of the profession and especially so of the support systems we have in place at The OT Practice that allows it to thrive.

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