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Who Am I?

Hi. I’m Ailsa Hobkinson. I’m a Chartered Physiotherapist, Ergonomist, and Moving & Handling Advisor. I gained my professional qualification in 1996 from Sheffield Hallam University, and more recently, I achieved a Masters degree in Ergonomics from Cranfield University in 2011.

My Professional Background

It was my Head of Year who originally put the idea of becoming a physiotherapist to me. His son was a physiotherapist, and he thought, given my exam subjects (and the fact I was in many of the school sports teams!), that I should have a look into this as a profession. So, I arranged to go and do a couple of weeks of work experience with his son at our local hospital, and the rest is history!!

Once qualified, I did my ‘rotations’ that new physiotherapists were required to do within the NHS. This gave me a rounded insight into a wide variety of clinical settings and patient conditions, both within inpatient and outpatient areas. Then, when I had completed my rotations, I decided that I wanted to specialise in the field of musculoskeletal health and rehabilitation. I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the work, being able to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal disorders, running the rehabilitation classes within the gym and hydrotherapy pool, and ultimately seeing the progress patients were making. Having got a few years of experience under my belt, I then decided to broaden my horizons and become an MSK specialist locum working around the UK, working in a lot of different clinics and hospitals.

After taking a 6-month break to go travelling (as you do when you’re young!) I returned to the UK and moved to London. This time, I worked within the private healthcare sector, in clinics on Harley Street and finally at a private London hospital. It was here, working as the Physiotherapy Manager, that I got my introduction to Moving & Handling. As the lead for the service, one of my duties was to coordinate the hospital’s M&H mandatory training and also write and implement the organisation’s Moving & Handling policy and strategy.

Having sparked my interest, I then decided to hang up my physiotherapy tunic and take a job as the Moving and Handling Lead at an NHS Foundation Trust in South London. This was a steep learning curve but very enjoyable. My day-to-day role is so diverse, providing corporate guidance on M&H risk management, policy/protocol implementation, Trust-wide equipment procurement, writing and delivering training programmes, and providing specialist handling advice to a variety of patient groups. My specific areas of interest are Intensive Care, Theatres, and bariatric patient handling.

A Day in My Life as a Trainer for OFI would see me...

A typical day for me would be training at one of our many NHS contracts in and around London. The sessions I could be delivering are varied and can range from Induction sessions for new staff, Refresher sessions, or staff group-specific sessions that may have been requested. For example, ITU, Theatres, and more recently, Mammography staff. I deliver training at many different venues, with many different set-ups and equipment! The NHS is currently employing a lot of Overseas staff, and it’s so interesting to hear about their M&H experiences from their home countries

The best thing about my job is...

I enjoy the variety of my working day. You never know the group of staff you’re going to be training. I like it when I have a group who are enthusiastic and also questioning… It keeps me on my toes!! It’s great at the end of a session to hear how my training has given them new ideas and ways to work in a more efficient and safer way. Not only does this help to prevent possible M&H injuries, but it also means that their patients are also receiving the best treatment!

My most rewarding moment at OFI

Dispelling people’s assumptions that M&H is boring and showing them new techniques they haven’t been taught before.

Recently, one of my attendees commented that it was their “first time in 10 years in the NHS that [they] found [a training session] useful and educative”, whilst another wrote that I was “extremely clear in explaining how to best deliver our care safely.” Positive feedback affirms the importance of such training and makes it all worth it.

Outside of OFI...

I like to do a lot of hiking. I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge in September 2023. This is a 24.5-mile walk, including climbing 3 of the Yorkshire Dales’ highest peaks (all over 2000 ft) in 12 hours… I definitely needed physiotherapy on my poor knees after this!!

I also do dog agility with my Sprocker Poo Finlay.

My approach and commitment to your company’s training needs:

Having worked within the NHS, I know how important it is to ensure that training reflects current practice and protocols within the organisation. I therefore always make a point of catching up with the clients’ subject matter experts to update myself on any new issues I need to include within my training. Having many years of experience within healthcare, I also try to tailor my session to those attending in order to give it relevance and interest, which sometimes means doing prior background research, too!