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The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) is calling for prosthetic and orthotic services to be protected so they can continue operating throughout the pandemic and ensuing winter pressures.

BAPO was established to encourage high standards of prosthetic and orthotic practice. It is committed to Continued Professional Development (CPD) and education to enhance standards of prosthetic and orthotic care.

The organisation says that it is crucial prosthetic and orthotic intervention continues for children and young people throughout the pandemic and is thus asking for services to remain open.

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This call comes following an announcement made by NHS England during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, which recommended that work deemed medium and lower priority relating to ‘wheelchairs, orthotics and prosthetics and equipment’ services for children and young people should be stopped.

The letter detailed that stopping these services would enable staff to be redeployed and would free up resources in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

However, at the time, this recommendation was met with criticism by Brian Donnelly, CEO of CECOPS, and Sarah Clayton, CEO of Simple Stuff Works, who warned of potential problems that could arise as a result of important services stopping during the coronavirus pandemic.

They said that stopping these crucial services could have drastic impact on service users and lead to built-up demand when services restarted,

Similarly, BAPO highlights that the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), has been significant. Access to prosthetic and orthotic services in the UK is vital in supporting children’s physical health, mental health and development, it states.

With orthotics, access to timely treatment ensures the effectiveness of some therapy treatment which relies on orthotic intervention for optimum results.

The association reinforces the importance of children having access to prosthetic treatment to ensure that the prosthetic devices they use for daily activities are revised appropriately to prevent mobility issues and potential physical damage due to ill-fitting devices.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we need to protect families, children and young people who rely on prosthetic and orthotic treatment as an adjunct to surgery, medical intervention, serial casting or therapy treatment, to be able to function at their best,” BAPO continues. “Children are growing, conditions changing constantly and with targeted input from our services when they are required, long term disability and harm can be avoided.”

Now, BAPO is encouraging prosthetic and orthotic service to remain open and ensure that an appropriate number of prosthetists and orthotists are protected from redeployment.

It says that this will ensure families with children and young people can access the essential support they need.

The organisation adds: “We recognise the need for flexibility in areas where acute pressures are high, where individual discussions may be appropriate, however, we ask that the impact of the lack of access to prosthetic and orthotic services are discussed and understood from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

“Prosthetic and orthotic services should not be left without the staff or facilities to deliver essential treatment as occurred earlier in 2020.”

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