Deborah Bancroft - Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner

April's "2 Minutes With...", PHPN's regular feature for the North-West Population Health & Prevention Network caught up with Deborah Bancroft, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in the Bury Integrated MSK service at Bury & Rochdale Care Organisation.

Tell us about your role...

I work as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner in the Bury Integrated MSK service at Bury & Rochdale Care Organisation, which is part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group.  My role is to triage, assess and manage patients referred in by their GPs with orthopaedic, rheumatology and pain conditions. One of the aims of the service is to manage a high proportion of patients throughout their episode of care, without the need for them to be seen by an orthopaedic surgeon, rheumatologist or pain consultant.

I also have a lead role within the MSK physiotherapy services, in developing and improving care pathways which support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our patients.

Tell us about your public health career journey...

I have always been interested in supporting my patients to lead healthy lifestyles.  However, my real interest in public health started in 2014 when I became a volunteer for a movement in Bury called 'I Will if you Will', which aims to support more women and girls to be more active.  I worked with the communications and marketing team and my role was to engage with women attending different community exercise classes to gain an understanding of what they perceived as the barriers to becoming more active, and what support might help them overcome these. The movement was funded by Sport England and delivered by Bury Council.  Insights from the project went on to shape the national 'This Girl Can' campaign.  Working closely with the wider team, made me realise that our physiotherapy service shared a common goal with the movement, to support our patients to become more active and that both organisations could benefit by working collaboratively to improve signposting pathways, which we went on to do.  As a result of this I became an Ambassador for the movement and have had the opportunity to represent them at a number of national conferences and events.    

My physiotherapy colleague, Caroline Moss and I have develop the Fairfield MECC Model, which is now fully embedded into our MSK physiotherapy services and this continues to evolve.

Tell us more...

We have developed our own MECC training programme to equip staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver brief advice and tailored signposting and we now work in partnership with a large range of support organisations.

A recent development which is proving to be a real asset to patients is the introduction of a Health Trainer within the services. Patients can now be provided with more in depth personalised support around healthy eating and weight management, stopping smoking, drinking sensibly and improving sleep, at the same time they attend for physiotherapy.

What have been your career highlights / greatest career achievements?

Without doubt, this has been undertaking my MSc in Public Health at the University of Salford, which I thoroughly enjoyed and completed this summer.  The journey has been life changing! It has given me the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the wider determinants of health and the contribution health care professionals can make in supporting population health and wellbeing.    

Fully embedding MECC within the MSK Services has been a major achievement for us and the evidence shows that our physiotherapy teams are truly having a positive impact on patient’s health and wellbeing.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I am fortunate to come into contact with so many inspirational and passionate people who want to improve population health.  But the real motivator is when I am able to support a patient to make positive lifestyle changes and they feel empowered to do so.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being able to constantly develop new ideas to improve service delivery and supporting staff to realise the impact they can have on improving their patient’s health and wellbeing.

On the flipside, what do you enjoy least about your job?

Whilst it is wonderful to see rotational staff develop their confidence in delivering a MECC approach, six months quickly passes before it is time for them to move on. Workforce development is an on-going challenge as well as an opportunity to train more staff. Hopefully, some will develop an interest in public health and their MECC training will shape their future practice.

Lastly, would you recommend your job to others? If so, why?

Most definitely!  I came into my profession in the hope of making a difference to people’s lives, developing my public health role has enabled me to realise this ambition.