I felt shackled in the NHS and really wanted to work somewhere with less red tape

Philip Barber, Clinical Lead for South West Essex (SWEX) and Developing Consultant Physiotherapist (DCP), talks about his career to date and how the DCP programme is bringing opportunities and career choices to the participants.

16 January 2020

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I have always been a keen cyclist and runner

Whilst at school I played lots of sports and I remember going to an Arsenal football game when a physio ran onto the pitch and I thought, I’d like to do that job. I started by completing a BSc in Sport Science due to my love of sport, but my job opportunities were limited. My father reminded me about my physio ambition, so I went on to finish a BSc in Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham. My studies have continued and I am near completion of my MSc in Physiotherapy at the University of Hertfordshire.

I choose to work in MSK as I had two MSK placements as a student, and I really enjoyed it compared to my time on the wards. With my background in Sport Sciences, I really enjoyed the exercise prescription and rehabilitation side of treating my patients.

My career in MSK started in East London, working for City and Hackney NHS Trust.  I then moved to Barts Health, where I worked with Dylan Morrissey and Peter Malliaras – two big researchers in the field of MSK who I learnt a lot from.

I chose to work in Connect because I liked their ethos

I joined Connect Health in 2016 in Essex as an Advanced Physio Practitioner (APP). At the interview, I discovered how Connect has more freedom to be innovative and can create new job roles or career pathways. I was promoted to APP Team Lead in SWEX and around 6-9 months later, to Clinical Lead. Around a year ago I was successful in being selected for the Developing Consultant Physiotherapist (DCP) programme. Doors were opened for me which I am thankful for.

We have the freedom to operate at Connect

One of the reasons I chose to move on from the NHS was because of the lack of ability to make changes to the service, as there is so much red tape. Yes, I could change some day to day things, but at Connect it’s easier to make bigger transformational changes. For example, if we wanted to use new innovative technology as a new APP or introduce something like deciding to work out of local gyms, we simply pitch the idea, it gets tested and if we like it, we can use it. We have the freedom to use different providers and see what’s out there.

I’ve recently completed a half-iron man and run a marathon in under 3 hours 30 minutes

The DCP programme gives me  a wider view of the company

The DCP programme has already provided me with involvement in working on projects that span all of Connect, rather than just working in Essex where I am based. For example, I have provided leadership and support for two of our contracts in London. We have lots of different contracts in the south and we have two clinical leads who are new to the role so I helped to support them, answering any questions whilst also visiting them in their services. Also, I’ve been supporting an APP in the south with the injection therapy clinics he runs, signing off his competencies.

The DCP programme has developed my skills in leadership, research and education

I am the lead for Connect’s MSK EdNet  (educational network) and am carrying out a review of educational delivery across the whole of Connect, in order to standardise in-service training to make sure we use the best resources and utilise our subject matter experts/clinical leads for teaching.

The top 3 things I like about Connect’s DCP programme:

  • Working with the other DCPs and learning from them. We all have different strengths and experiences which we can share.
  • It has been really interesting to be involved in projects which will shape the future of the company.
  • I have enjoyed working with other contracts around the country, providing leadership and support but also teaching in their In-Service Training days.

I’m most proud of my work in the South West Essex service

SWEX is a very large service and we have targets we have to hit, set by the CCG. When we first took over, there were lots of challenges, but now morale is really high and the service has expanded hugely, from just a physiotherapy service. We now provide pain and rheumatology services and making sure we are delivering the very best quality of care, whilst continuing to hit our KPIs.

My hopes and aspirations for the future?

I plan to complete my MSc and may potentially look at a PhD in the future. I also hope that some day I may become a Consultant Physiotherapist. In terms of Connect, my aspiration is to help the organisation to continue to be the leading provider of MSK, and at the forefront of new and innovative ways of working. I also want to support our staff to be the best – this is really important to me. My advice to others is to work hard and don’t be afraid to speak up. Be proactive and suggest new ideas and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.


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

Click here to download Phil Barber’s Story