Physio director's journey from Scotland to cyclone territory

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New CHHHS Director of Physiotherapy Graham Macgregor.

New CHHHS Director of Physiotherapy Graham Macgregor.

Two weeks after moving from Scotland to Cairns, Graham MacGregor was put to work doing something he never imagined he would need to do as a physio: helping people recover from a cyclone.

‘I was sponsored to work in an outpatients’ practice in Cairns,’ Graham said.

‘I landed a week after Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

‘I spent my time doing rehab with people who had hurt their backs cleaning up their yards from the cyclone: it was a totally different life to what I had experienced thus far in my career as a physiotherapist.’

Graham - who has since been newly appointed to the role of Director of Physiotherapy, at the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service - qualified as a physio in Glasgow in 2000, after completing an initial degree in sport medicine.

He said back then, as a sports-mad Scot (who, incidentally, has represented Scotland in international American football), he was naively under the impression that physiotherapists merely treated athletes.

‘Once you get into this profession, the conditions and people that you do get to see ranges from stroke patients to skateboarders, respiratory patients in ICU, to paediatrics to elderly care,’ he said.

‘It’s far, far, more from just injured sportspeople.’

Graham joined CHHHS in 2016 as part of an expansion to Cairns Hospital’s Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Screening Clinic.

He said the program demonstrated one of the vital roles of Allied Health, in helping improve patient flow across the hospital.

‘Our role at the clinic was to look at the orthopaedic list and say ‘who can we help? Who doesn’t need to go to surgery’, so the right people were being seen for surgery at the right time,’ he said.

With World Allied Health Professionals Day today, Graham said he wanted people to understand the full spectrum of professions under the allied health umbrella.

‘As an Allied Health professional, you can specialise in anything: you can be a paediatric physio; you can be an occupational therapy cancer specialist; you can be a Social Worker in the Emergency Department; a manager; or a dietitian in food services, all of who may be imaged by a radiographer or given medication by a pharmacist’ he said.

‘There are a wide variety of Allied Health professionals, who are essential components of holistic patient care and patient wellbeing across all facets of the patient journey.’