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First national director of ‘neglected’ rehab care appointed

Published on: 13 Oct 2021

An adviser to the Northern Irish government has been appointed as NHS England’s first director of rehabilitation care.

Jennifer Keane, who is currently the chief allied health professions officer for Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, has announced she will be taking on the role for NHSE’s discharge and community services.

She will be responsible for work on rehabilitation and discharges, as well as other areas covered by NHS Continuing Healthcare and the Better Care Fund. She will manage a team of around 60 people and report to NHSE’s director of community health, Matthew Winn.

Sources have previously told HSJ the role was developed amid concerns NHSE was “neglecting” the development of rehabilitation services, particularly in comparison to other European countries.

The role was announced after the NHS was given a budget of £100m to develop long-covid services in 2021-22, which includes boosting community-based rehabilitation.

Ms Keane, who originally trained as a therapeutic radiographer, was appointed to her role with the Northern Irish government in 2019.

Prior to this she has worked as lead allied health professional for Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency and as an AHP consultant, providing advice on the commissioning of services.

Chief executive of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Karen Middleton said Ms Keane’s appointment had the ”potential to bring urgently needed improvements to rehab services”.

”Jenny is well placed to make a success of this key role, with her strong commitment to the value of rehab, and the breadth of her strategy and policy experience,” she added. 

”That experience will be vital in in addressing record levels of unmet rehab needs and putting the right staffing and skills in place to support patients, families and carers.”

NHS England has been contacted for a comment.