(L - R): Sarah Jeffrey, Michael Hellawell, Helen Hellawell, Ally Briggs, and Claire Graham.
Matthew Neville

Bradford physiotherapy training firm helping to solve NHS staffing crisis

A Bradford company is aiming to tackle the NHS staffing crisis by offering placements to students operating in the field of physiotherapy.

Neoniq, which offers placements for students as well as low cost physiotherapy treatments for local people at its base in Shipley, is running an open day on Monday April 4.

The company was the brainchild of Claire Graham and Michael Hellawell, who saw a gap in the market while lecturing in physiotherapy at the University of Bradford.

Michael commented: “The NHS needs more qualified staff, but in order to get the qualifications the students need to go on placements, but there aren’t enough and so that’s where the bottleneck is. Creating more placements helps solve the problem.”

Claire added: “For people working in the NHS, who are already under pressure, having a student on placement adds to the workload. But for us, the workload is the students. And we can focus on the learning environment, rather than it being something on top of what people are being asked to do in a stretched workplace.”

The pair were encouraged by discussions they had with Health Education England, which is responsible for the education of health care professionals, and they have been given support by AD:VENTURE, which helps early stage businesses in North and West Yorkshire.

Their clinic, which opened last November, has already had more than 300 students on placement and more than 200 local people have received physiotherapy treatment, with the initial assessment being free and five follow-up sessions for £20.

Claire said: “We do not make our money from seeing patients, so we can be inexpensive, as it is a student-led consultation. It means we are not an exclusive service, so we are finding the local GPs do refer patients to us because we are an affordable option.”

Claire and Michael have already taken on two members of staff, a physiotherapist and a graduate sport rehabilitator, who have, or are working towards, teaching qualifications. They plan to take on more staff, with specialities in different health areas.

Several universities, including Leeds, Bradford, York and Hull, are already sending students on placement. And, as well as physiotherapy students, Neoniq has had pharmacy students, nursing students, trainee physician associates and T-level students on placements. Some placements are online and some are at their premises at Merchants Quay.

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