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Partnership to strengthen physiotherapy research, training and education


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A partnership which will enhance education, training and clinical research in physiotherapy has been launched at Leeds Beckett University.

Leeds Beckett and Connect Health, the UK’s leading provider of musculoskeletal services, have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new clinical - academic organisational partnership. The collaboration harnesses the clinical, educational and research expertise of both organisations to advance the development of physiotherapy and related musculoskeletal therapies.

As part of the new partnership, Andrew Walton, Executive Chair of Connect, has been appointed a Visiting Professor of Leeds Beckett, whilst Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett becomes a Non-Executive Advisor to Connect for Education and Research. The launch of the new partnership also includes a new three year fully-funded Connect PhD studentship to undertake research into muscle ageing. For more details about the studentship and how to apply visit Research Studentships and Fees-only Bursaries.

Speaking at the launch of the new partnership, Professor Ieuan Ellis said: “I am delighted that Leeds Beckett have established this new partnership with Connect as the UK’s leading independent provider of musculoskeletal physiotherapy services. Andrew and I first worked together over 15 years ago to develop an innovative accredited in-company staff development programme for physiotherapists. I have been enormously impressed by the growth and development of Connect under Andrew’s leadership and there are now many exciting new opportunities for clinical-academic collaboration in areas of education, training and to establish programmes of clinical-academic research. We are also launching a co-funded, three year full-time PhD studentship which heralds the start of a strong programme of joint work between our academic researchers at Leeds Beckett and clinical experts in Connect. I am excited by this new partnership and the opportunities it affords for the advancement of high quality, research-based physiotherapy practice.”

Andrew added: “Developing this partnership with Ieuan and Leeds Beckett is a fantastic way for both organisations to be involved in furthering the understanding of musculoskeletal conditions, which make up 30% of all GP appointments in the UK. By combining their academic research team with our clinical expertise, we are creating a collaboration that will enhance both organisations and allow us to develop the clinical research within the field of physiotherapy, which should lead to benefits for the millions of people every year who suffer from problems with their muscles and joints.

“We will run professional development courses together for colleagues across the region. We want physiotherapists and sports therapists to better understand our values, our aims and the benefits of working at Connect. On a personal note, I am also delighted to be taking up the role of Visiting Professor of Leeds Beckett, and hope I can contribute towards the educational excellence that I have seen first-hand from their team.”

Connect Health is the leading provider of musculoskeletal services in the UK, delivering community services to 16 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and occupational health services to over 70 private companies. Their 200+ clinical experts treat over 250,000 patients each year, ensuring they are seen by the right person, in the right place at the right time, and improving their quality of life.

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