I was attracted by Connect Health’s rehabilitation ethos and their pioneering use of IT and digital health solutions

This is the first of a series of blogs featuring the all-female leadership team in our revolutionary Lincolnshire Pain service.

We start with internationally renowned specialist in pain rehabilitation, Consultant Physiotherapist Gail Sowden.

17 June 2020

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I was interested in the physio profession from a young age

I first became aware of physiotherapy after talking to my best friend’s mum, who happened to be a physiotherapist. I then arranged to shadow one as part of school work experience. I learnt that physiotherapy combines two things I love – exercise and science -and that it was also a good profession with which to travel and work abroad. I decided it was the profession for me!

I joined Connect Health in March 2020 as Consultant Physiotherapist and National Pain Lead.

I have worked as a senior lecturer and in the public and private healthcare sectors, both abroad and in the UK

Prior to joining Connect Health, I was a consultant physiotherapist within the NHS for over 14 years, initially as the physiotherapy lead for a spinal extended scope practitioner service and then in 2008, I helped establish an award-winning interdisciplinary pain service and subsequently provided both leadership and clinical input into that service.

Research continues to be very close to my heart

For the last 14 years, I have also worked in the clinical trials unit at Keele University, where I have contributed to the development and delivery of world leading musculoskeletal research. I also developed tools and resources to support the implementation of key research findings into policy and practice, via my role within the Impact Accelerator Unit. I continue to work in research at the School of Primary, Community & Social Care, at Keele University.

I was attracted by the rehabilitation ethos of Connect Health

I have been aware of Connect Health for some time, having taught a number of current and former staff. I was attracted to the company’s values and rehabilitation ethos, their pioneering use of IT and digital health solutions and the opportunities that the consultant post provided to help shape pain services across Connect Health. I also have a background in vocational rehabilitation, so I will be providing some support to the Occupational Health Service.

My role is to provide national pain leadership across Connect Health, as well as to support the Lincolnshire pain service

I joined one week before Covid-19 lockdown started and whilst the circumstances are far from normal, I was hugely impressed by the positive way the Pain services embraced change in response to Covid-19.

I feel hugely privileged to be able to work with people with persistent pain

The Lincolnshire service recently celebrated their one-year anniversary and in the last year they have achieved a great deal and should be proud of the team and service they have built. Looking forwards, I’m really excited to be working with them on the next stage of the service development.

I love working with patients with persistent pain

I think pain science and practice is a fascinating and evolving field and whilst the clinical work can be challenging at times, it is also hugely rewarding. This is an exciting time with developments in the role of experts by experience, digital health solutions and greater integration between physical and mental health services. I am relishing the challenge of working with Connect Health to further these and other opportunities.

There are many benefits to working at Connect Health

Firstly, the people – they’re amazing. Connect Health employs staff with incredible expertise and a passionate commitment to delivering high value clinical care. They are also lovely and a lot of fun to work with. Secondly, it’s an exciting place to work. The company is very forward thinking and innovative.

Being the new girl, I’m still trying to get to grips with the organisation, systems and processes but I’ve found everybody to be really generous with their time and expertise, so I’m sure I’ll get there.

Video and telephone consultations will be a key part of normal provision for patients post Covid-19

Whilst telehealth and digital interventions are not appropriate for everybody, I think they have a number of advantages over traditional face-to-face clinical delivery and will be part of the healthcare landscape going forwards, alongside face-to-face provision. I also think that in the future, services are going to be doing more to support patients to actively self-manage and to enable the public to access high quality health and well-being related information and advice.

My advice to other clinicians who are looking to further develop their career, is don’t wait for opportunities to come along.

Think about where you want to be, develop relationships and be proactive in creating opportunities for yourself.

Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and friends, doing yoga and jogging. I was born and brought up abroad and travelled a lot when I was younger. Fortunately, as an adult, I have been able to continue to travel and experience different countries and cultures as well as exploring closer to home, in our campervan called ‘Wanda’.


If you’d like to find out more about working at Connect Health, contact people@connecthealth.co.uk

Click here to download Gail Sowden’s Story