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Occupational therapist to sit on national forum

Posted: 16/12/19

An occupational therapist has been appointed to sit on a national forum which will help shape legislation and share knowledge that will benefit other occupational therapists and service users.

Following a successful application, Gillian Thomson, an advanced occupational therapist at Walkergate Park, has become a committee member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ (RCOT) Long Term Conditions Forum.

One of three national forums, alongside brain injury and stroke, the Long Term Conditions Forum looks to ensure the profession’s rightful place in health and social care delivery. The group is made up of six committee members from all over the country, with Gillian the only one representing the North East.

Part of the role includes attending quarterly meetings at RCOT’s London headquarters and organising the annual Long Term Conditions Conference.

Gillian will also play an integral part in designing CPD courses available for RCOT members. Through the design of these courses, Gillian will be able to share knowledge with other occupational therapists at Walkergate Park and provide current, evidence-based practice.

The forum is also responsible for commenting on NICE guidelines, something Gillian believes to be extremely important. “I love the clinical side of my role but it’s nice to think that being part of this forum can influence the way occupational therapists carry out clinical practice,” she said.

“It’s great that people who are commenting on policy and guidelines are actually clinicians who will use these policies in practice.”

Being a committee member is also an invaluable opportunity to network with other occupational therapists to share information and best practice.

Gillian added: “The forum gives me the chance to shout about Walkergate Park on a national scale. I’m really proud to work at Walkergate Park and it will be good to have someone on the team who is able to influence decisions nationally.

“My managers and colleagues have been really supportive of my appointment and we are always encouraged to progress in our careers.”

Heather Scorfield, occupational therapy service lead for neurological services at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), said: “I would like to congratulate Gillian on her appointment to this role.

“Gillian will be able to utilise her varied experience and knowledge to help shape occupational therapy provision for people with long term conditions, not just within CNTW but nationally. Gillian is a valued therapist within neurological services and I am sure she will make an important contribution to the forum.”

Gillian will undertake her new role alongside her day job as a community occupational therapist for Huntington’s disease. She says the best part of her work is being part of a multi-disciplinary team; Walkergate Park aims to maximise people’s potential for independence by using individualised, inter-disciplinary treatment as the most positive approach to rehabilitation.

Walkergate Park is part of CNTW, a provider of mental health and learning disability services. The centre is for people with a disability caused by an injury or disease affecting the brain, spinal cord or muscles.

One of the most advanced centres of its kind in Europe, the Walkergate Park team has extensive experience and expertise in managing physical disabilities, neurobehavioural, neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric problems.