Connect Health has been very supportive of my learning and development, giving me time off for studying. It’s really satisfying and enriching

Michael Dare, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner, Rheumatology SIG and Clinical Lead for East Kent Rheumatology service shares how he’s developed professionally at Connect Health.

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When I was younger I was under the misconception that physiotherapy was associated with healthy sports people

I was always an active person at school, with a love for rugby, cricket and squash. I thought then that physio was for healthy, active people but when I began to study as a physiotherapist I realised that you see people from all backgrounds.

I trained in South Africa

After my undergraduate course, I did a year’s internship then went back to university to complete a Masters in MSK medicine, followed by a transitional doctorate in physiotherapy (DPT). I then worked in the Middle East for a few years.

I moved to Connect Health in 2017

I’d always wanted to work in the NHS because of the learning and development opportunities. But I was also keeping an eye on jobs at Connect Health and identified a role in MSK and rheumatology that I thought would be a good fit. I was in contact with a consultant physio at Connect Health, and he put me in touch with the right person and I sent in an application. I was successful and moved over from Dubai to Essex in 2017 with my wife.

Culturally, England is very similar to South Africa, but the healthcare system is very different.

It’s essentially a developing country, so budgets are weighted heavily to communicable diseases, e.g. HIV and tuberculosis, so a large part of my training was working with people who were quite unwell. In the UK, most of the money is spent on lifestyle diseases like hypertension, cancer, diabetes, and MSK. It’s a healthy, ageing population, so the focus is completely different.

This post combines a specialised clinical caseload within a whole MDT MSK pathway

There’s also a requirement to provide clinical leadership with regards to MSK, and specifically rheumatology service delivery.

I’ve learnt a lot during my time at Connect Health

When I started, I was very much a novice in working in Rheumatology but with Connect Health’s support I feel comfortable working in the field now. I’ve done my prescribing training at the University of Essex, ultrasound training, injection therapy training and they supported me in the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) two year diploma. They’ve allowed time for me to shadow clinicians and rheumatology specialists and accommodated me when I needed time off for studying and my graduation. They’ve been really supportive as far as learning and development is concerned and continue to be.


 Opportunities are out there – it’s just a matter of working hard and going that extra mile. If you are willing to work hard anything is possible.

Connect Health gives you a great opportunity to be involved in other services

The service in Essex was essentially the first rheumatology service we have bid for and implemented. I was with the service from the beginning, so we have learnt a lot in terms of pathways management. It’s been quite useful when implementing services in other areas of the country enabling us to avoid making the same mistakes in services with particular challenges.

You have to be willing to work hard

The clinical workload can be quite heavy, and time management can be a challenge. But these challenges are not unique to Connect Health, it’s an NHS-wide problem. Sometimes the responsibilities we have, such as clinical decision making, are not ones traditionally done by a physio, so that can be difficult. But I believe that hard work very seldom fails.

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in policy through Connect Health

There’s a national drive to improve the treatment and diagnosis of Spondylarthritis (SpA), as the UK is one of the worst performing countries in the EU at the moment regarding delayed diagnosis. The government has established an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to find ways to improve this, and along with two colleagues, I’ve been part of it. The APPG has come up with five recommendations that providers should aspire to achieve as a result.

You’re always learning something new Connect Health

Every few weeks you learn something or gain a new skill, nothing is stagnant. It can be hard work, but it’s about taking the initiative and being willing to do a lot of learning and development on your own. Whatever you decide to do, your line manager would be supportive of that at Connect Health as long as it was a good goal to achieve. My aim is to have an impact on rheumatology services throughout the country, helping to improve capacity and service delivery.

Since writing, Michael has been promoted to clinical lead for East Kent Rheumatology service in May 2020.



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