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We need to build an industrial strategy and explore the possibility of a sector deal with the government Stuart Armstrong, Sport England Stuart: The workforce needs a better understanding of health conditions generally. Having a workforce able to engage with people with long-term health conditions is essential to meeting their needs and giving them confidence that they will be cared for effectively. Elaine: There’s a step to be taken before ‘semi-medicalising’ the workforce. That is to change behaviours and mindsets about our sector’s training and what it does. We need to reimagine our sector and the vital part we play in people’s health. Only with a willingness to change our services will we present the opportunities for a different approach and essential skills. Should we be ‘semi-medicalising’ our workforce? Muir: Long-COVID is just another long-term condition; the workforce needs the confidence, skill and knowledge to treat it as such. Tara: We have excellent standards of impactful practice such as cancer prehab, diabetes clinics etc. We do, however, need to continue to educate advocates, such as GPs and occupational and mental health professionals, about the benefits of activity. Our profession is skilled-up to increase activity among the population – we can help prevent people from becoming ill – but our role needs to be better understood by allied health professions. That’s not to say that our workforce shouldn’t always look to upskill, but I don’t think ‘medicalising’ our professionals will encourage more people to get active, whereas getting the support and buy-in from our healthcare colleagues will.

How can we get funding to reskill the sector? Tara: Funding is critical. We need to work with the government to ensure activity is at the forefront of their minds when rebuilding society. We’ve got to do that in a more unified way than previously. Stuart: We need a stronger understanding of the employment and skills required of our sector – we need granular knowledge from the ground up. Then we’ll be able to tap into local sources of skills funding, influence education providers, and build a national picture to develop an industrial strategy and explore the possibility of a ‘sector deal’ with the government. Elaine: We need to take a whole system approach when considering what skills are required to create a ‘National Wellness Service’. This would require buy-in and funding from local and national agencies. The measurements of such training would link to local and national priorities and outcomes. l ©Cybertrek 2021 Issue 5 2021