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British report warns that millions are in poor health due to lack of rehabilitation after illness

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A damning report has warned that millions of people in the UK are in poor health as they miss out on vital rehabilitation after strokes, heart attacks and cancer, which in turn is putting more pressure on the NHS.

Physiotherapists say some groups of patients are particularly severely affected. Without access to these services, they said, many patients desperately trying to recover from the disease became “stuck in a downward spiral,” with other health conditions developing as a result.

The new report from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says that millions of people in marginalized communities, including those from ethnic minorities, are not only more likely to live shorter lives, but also spend a greater proportion of their lives experiencing health difficulties.

The report warns that vital services that can address these inequalities are either unavailable or poorly equipped to meet their needs, adding that “some societies face special barriers.”

Professor Karen Middleton, CEO of CSP, said: “Rehabilitation services have been under-resourced for decades and not designed coherently in the first place. This has exacerbated poor health outcomes, particularly for people from marginalized groups.

Not only does the individual suffer. Without adequate access to rehabilitation, health conditions deteriorate to such an extent that eventually strained local health systems and other public services are increasingly strained.

“We urgently need a modern recovery and rehabilitation service that adequately supports patients in the wake of health crises and prevents the development of other conditions.”

The report says that people who face “systemic discrimination and marginalization” and those who live in poor communities are more likely to miss out on the opportunity for rehabilitation.

The community support program said access to high-quality rehabilitation services must be improved to avoid “further entrenching the health inequalities faced by millions”.

People live longer with long-term conditions and after cancer, stroke, or heart disease. When people deal with a long-term condition, their future health and well-being “make a huge difference,” according to the report.

However, the authors cautioned: “It should be universally available as an unmissable part of treatment. But millions are currently missing out.

Without rehabilitation, people can get stuck in a downward spiral where one long-term condition leads to other health conditions, including more long-term ones, with loss of mobility, poor mental health, and multiple treatment regimens.

“Ensuring access to everyone who needs rehabilitation can reverse this spiraling deterioration.”

It emerged on Tuesday that thousands of physical therapy staff in England and Wales would vote on an industrial strike after overwhelmingly rejecting this year’s NHS pay award.

The CSP said nearly 80% of voters in England said they were ready to take industrial action, with 83% in Wales. The CSP Board recommended that members vote to support the work. A decision has already been made on whether to hold a poll in Scotland.