Connect kickstarted my clinical career that had felt stifled for some time

Neil Swift, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner and Lower Limb Subject Matter Expert discusses his career progression at Connect and his upcoming educational event.

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Neil Swift, Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner and Lower Limb Subject Matter Expert discusses his career progression at Connect and his upcoming educational event.


After 9 years in an NHS trust in Rotherham as a tier one physio, I joined Connect Health in November 2017 primarily to move up the career ladder. I’d reached a bit of a clinical dead-end in my previous role, so one of the reasons I was attracted to the job, was to develop and progress my clinical and wider advanced practice skills and I took on my first advanced physiotherapy practitioner role.

My role at Rotherham involved assessing and managing a varied caseload of musculoskeletal problems, working closely with the orthopaedic physiotherapy practitioners there. Along with the opportunity for a new challenge and professional development, one of the big selling points for the role, when I was discussing it with Andrew Cuff (clinical lead North Kirklees and Wakefield), was the emphasis on being an exceptional physiotherapist first and foremost with the extended remit for investigation and referral if needed. I was particularly drawn to the idea of keeping patients in the APP clinic for rehab if needed, which wasn’t something I’d seen in other APP roles I’d looked at.

Since joining I’ve been pleased with the excellent training provided locally through our in service programme and clinical supervision groups. I’ve also been supported and given guidance to develop leadership skills recently when helping out with some of the team leader roles in the service, and been supported to go on injection training as part of the wider advanced practice role.

My role as “Lower Limb” subject matter expert for Connect is aiming to improve practice company wide

In Autumn 2018, I was given the added responsibility of Subject Matter Expert in the Lower Limb. This involves leading and driving forward, along with 12 others, clinical care in relation to specialist areas. Day to day, I have a number of projects focused on driving up quality companywide of the management of lower limb conditions.

I’m involved in a piece of work looking at patellofemoral pain (knee cap). So working with some of the other SMEs, we are looking at how we can improve practice and have already done some audit work, and are looking to put together resource packs to help clinicians with the wider evidence base and to support Connect Health 15 in 15 clinical guidelines.

My teaching commitments really stretch me

I presented at the first study day in the north earlier this year. Clinicians from all our contracts in the north came together to learn about gluteal tendinopathy and patellofemoral pain. I covered rehab principals and clinical treatment around these conditions. It seemed to go down well with good feedback on the day from around 50 delegates.

Gluteal Tendinopathy – A common problem which doesn’t always needs escalation.

It’s quite a common condition and one that often gets escalated up to me by the physio or GP but on assessment, it often does not require advanced inventions like imaging and injections. With simple but effective management strategies, patients often do very well. My take home message is don’t over complicate things.

This is a condition where difficult conversations with the patient are really common. For example, they might expect injections or scans which are very rarely indicated, certainly as first line treatment. And like most tendon problems, there are often wider lifestyle issues like weight loss, smoking cessation or physical activity that are all really important in managing this patient group.

Giving patients the impetus to engage in a healthy lifestyle

Whilst the next steps might be different from the patient’s initial expectations on arrival, through explanation and good shared decision making, they are often happy when they go out of the door and have a good plan in place to help them going forward.

As a recent patient said to me – “whilst I didn’t want to hear I needed to lose weight, deep down I knew I had to do it and I can now see how important it is in making my hip better.”

 So I really like working at Connect. Every day is different and I get a good variation of patients and clinical case load. It constantly challenges me to continue progressing as a clinician and feels like there is support to help me achieve that.

If you are interested in a career at Connect Health email