Page last updated at 23:29 GMT, Monday, 25 May 2009 00:29 UK

Rehab industry 'facing clean up'

Physiotherapy
There has been a boom in private rehab firms in recent years

A new system of common standards has been unveiled with the aim of cleaning up the private rehabilitation industry.

The UK Rehabilitation Council has issued the guidelines covering everything from cost to qualifications.

They are aimed at private health firms providing nursing, physiotherapy and counselling care to people injured in accidents and at work.

The council, which represents the industry, said it was acting because of a minority of rogue firms.

It is essential that those absent from work due to ill health or injury get the quality of care they need to ensure a well-managed return to work
Lord McKenzie, work minister

Private rehab firms have enjoyed a boom in recent years as insurance firms see them as a way of minimising their pay-outs.

The providers are also being used by employers, particularly when staff are suffering stress, and the government, which has used them to help incapacity benefit claimants get back into work.

Thousands of people a year are said to have received some level of care but the council said there had been reports of poor service - albeit only in a minority of cases.

The group, with the backing of the government, has responded by drawing up the standards which are aimed at those paying for the service as well as their clients.

They give advice on how to choose a provider and what level of care and support can be expected. This includes advice on cost, qualifications of staff and likely outcomes.

The standards are voluntary but the council hopes that having them in place will drive up performance across the board.

Lives improved

Catherine McLoughlin, chairman of the council, said: "Our standards will strengthen the hand of customers and bona fide care providers.

"Private firms providing rehab have improved the lives of injured and unwell people.

"Unfortunately a minority of these firms have under-delivered and over-charged, so undermining the confidence in the whole concept."

Work minister Lord McKenzie also welcomed the standards.

"It is essential that those absent from work due to ill health or injury get the quality of care they need to ensure a well-managed return to work."

And Tim Matthews, chief executive of Remploy, which works with people injured or disabled to get them back to work, added: "For the first time in the UK, commissioners, provider and users of rehabilitation services will have the opportunity to benchmark those services, thereby driving greater consistency of delivery."



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