The recent survey conducted by the FMPA amongst its members threw up some alarming results. They were not alarming in terms of the issues raised, particularly as these are widely known, but more the confirmation that we are still dealing with concerns that were an integral part of our working environment 25 years ago.
Around this time, we saw the first signs of investment in the medical sector at clubs, as they realised that it was nigh on impossible for one ‘therapist’ to deal with 40 players and staff, cover first team and reserve games and work seven days a week for 340 days of the year. If this sounds ridiculous, that’s because it was. Ask any senior practitioner who was around in the early 90’s and they will delight in telling the same story themselves.
The arrival of additional staff was seen as good investment and indeed it is fair to say that the ability to deliver a better standard of care was realised with this additional support. Since then, the number of staff at clubs has grown significantly, so on the basis outlined above, the level of care should have grown exponentially. And to a degree it has. The level and standard of care in certain parts of the professional game is now among the best in the world, but this isn’t the case throughout the professional game and, what hasn’t changed – remarkably – is the standard of care for our members.
For some reason, their needs have not been addressed or it seems even considered, as evidenced by the results of our survey. In the vast majority of clubs, staff are still working in the most challenging of environments within their respective disciplines.
The survey results have shown that Doctors (in football) are working in isolation from medical colleagues and often in departments where standards fall well short of what should be expected. Therapists are working such long hours that their salaries are tantamount to the minimum wage. And clubs, while accepting they need bodies within the department, are uninterested in the qualifications and experience of those they employ; the cheaper the better. Add to this the complete lack of educational support and the high risks of litigation, and it’s easy to see why there has been a down turn in applicants for positions at clubs in recent years.
So what are the consequences of this lack of investment and support for our members? Well, it’s likely to translate ultimately into reduced standards of player care and an increase in the potential for mistakes to happen. It will also discourage practitioners from staying in the game, as evidenced by the number of outstanding clinicians who exit a club, only to find that there’s actually a life outside of football without all the pressure and risk. Their gain, football’s loss.
That’s the bottom line. So if anyone is really interested in player welfare, perhaps they could engage with the FMPA to find out what the real issues are, according to our members.
Article source: Issue 28 : football medicine & performance