Welcome to the website for the British Transport Police Federation

Hard work or holiday: an insight into the Police Treatment Centres

05 May, 2017

British Transport
Police Federation
May 5, 2017

Hard work or holiday: an insight into the Police Treatment Centres

Back in February I attended Mr Crowthers wellbeing seminar at FHQ and came away with some thoughts, both positive and negative, regarding the way in which BTP currently deals with officers who are currently experiencing both physical and physiological issues: I was thereafter able to publish my first blog. Spurred on by my experience, and the 'constructive feedback' received from colleagues back on division, I thought things could only improve with my next offering, my two-week residential stay at the Police Treatment Centre in Auchterarder, known as Castlebrae.

I had previously been a patient at Castlebrae in September 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of my stay, so it's fair to say when I received notice my application to attend for further treatment had been approved I was a happy and relieved chap: happy to get a break from my moaning colleagues back in the office (small office, all guys, curries, poor air conditioning - you can guess the rest) but also relieved and confident I would soon be receiving first class treatment for my injury.

My injury; I almost forgot to mention my near death winter sports experience.....ice skating with my 5 year old niece. One foot on the ice and I went flying, bum up in the air and landed on my elbow much to the amusement of young Annie.

Entering Castlebrae reception really was as though I'd never been away: Lana, the dayshift receptionist, gave me a quizzical 'I know you from somewhere' kind of look for a moment, then smiled as she welcomed me back - she even rembered my home town and a little bit about my background. This set the tone for my stay - staff throughout the centre recognising me and welcoming me back to the centre. Throughout both my stays every member of staff, from catering assistant up to deputy CEO, went about their business with a genuine smile and nothing appeared to be a chore. It really made for a content, relaxing and happy atmosphere.

For anyone who hasn't been fortunate/unfortunate to have been a resident at the PTC's before, the first stop is the nurse's station for routine checks such as blood pressure, the dreaded jumping on the scales, disclosing any relevant medical conditions etc.

I have a problem when it comes to blood pressure readings, a condition commonly referred to as 'white coat syndrome'. In short, I exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range when in a clinical setting, this believed due to the anxiety of the actual taking of a reading. Sounds crazy, but it's a medically recognised condition! Only last month, for the third time, I wore a blood pressure reading device type thingy (medical term) for a 24-hour period. All results came back as normal, as have various other tests over the past few years and my GP and others have stated I have the a/n condition. I somehow forgot to tell the attending nurse when she took my blood pressure though, her face was a picture: I think she was ready to have me carted out to the nearest hospital!

Fortunately, I had documentation and print outs from my last round of tests which put her mind at ease.

From the nurse's station it's straight across the corridor to the physiotherapy department to meet your physiotherapist and be allocated your first physio session. On arrival I immediately bumped into the physio who had treated me last year, but after a quick catch up I was allocated another physio and was fortunate enough to undergo my first session immediately. I'd like to say it was a pleasant experience but it wasn't, enough said (sorry Lesley).

After Lesley had finished her 'gentle manipulation' I was given my timetable for the rest of the week. Again, for anyone who hasn't attended, physios will direct you to attend certain classes every day, dependant on your injury. Other supplementary classes run throughout the day, and on top of this the gym, spin class, pool, hydrotherapy pool etc are open from 08:00 until 19:00 each day. There are also mountain bikes available to use at any time, as well as tennis rackets and several half sets of golf clubs for the nearby golf course.

A typical day for me would start at 08:15 with the first class of the day, usually some form of stretch or core class. This would take me up until breakfast at 08:45, coffee and read of the papers before my upper limb class at 10:00 every day. From this I was normally straight into my first physio session of the day (oh yes, just one wasn't quite good enough) and following on I headed into the gym for some cardio/arm stretches, finishing off in the hydrotherapy pool with some upper limb exercises and stretches before lunch at 13:00.

My afternoon normally comprised some leg work in the gym, my second physio session at 15:00, aqua fit at 16:00, stretch class at 17:00 and evening meal at 18:00. My day ended with the 19:00 class which normally entailed core exercises/stability; something a bit light-hearted.

When I say my day ended, that's not entirely true. Whilst at the PTC officers are encouraged to form a social committee and organise evening events, such as quizzes, snooker and darts competitions, lottery bonus ball, raffles and so on with the main event (the big quiz and main raffle) being on the Thursday.

Everyone is encouraged to donate some prizes that represent either where they work or where they come from. I therefore decided it was only right and proper that I donated a selection of Tunnocks chocolate wafers and teacakes (both milk and dark chocolate, no messing about) and also a bottle of the very finest vintage Buckfast tonic wine (a local delicacy - even our own Federation Chairman has been known to partake in a glass or two).

It has also been rumoured that Thursday evening sees a local licensed premises host a karaoke event, with the landlord donating £50 every week to the PTC as token of his appreciation for any custom the event brings his way (some may call it a bribe), but it any case I couldn't comment any further as what happens in Auchterarder stays in Auchterarder!

Last year the PTC treated almost 4000 officers; all this for a payroll deduction of £1.80 per week. I'm sure I mentioned this previously but for the price of a cup of coffee per week you can pay into this incredible scheme. In recent times I've been approached by several colleagues advising they have sustained injuries and wished to join the PTC and make use of the facilities. Unfortunately, that's not the way to go about business, otherwise I'm sure we would all put our membership on hold and only start paying when we really needed to - a bit like not paying car insurance until somebody steals our car, then trying to take out a policy to make a claim. Therefore, serving officers who wish to start donating to the PTC must donate for 12 months before they become eligible to receive free treatment. Student officers, providing they sign up to become voluntary donors at the point they join the force, do not have to commence donations for 12 months; although the student officer will be entitled to apply for treatment during this time (first year is free).

In recent times there has been a bit of confusion regards the application process for the PTC: certainly in D division our HR department produced a flow chart which appeared to be slightly at odds with the rest of the force. The correct procedure is set out in the force SOP's, with the first step being your line manager referring you to OH. If your application is supported by OH/area, the medical part of the form should be completed by OH (HR should not have sight of the form as it is confidential) and thereafter the officer concerned should forward the completed form to Jill or Yvonne in the Federation offices at Dulwich: they will then liaise with the PTC on your behalf.

There have been reports of HR staff insisting on being kept in the loop regards the completed application form - this is not the case. The only people who should have sight of the application form are the applicant, OH completing the medical section and thereafter Jill/Yvonne within the Federation offices.

It has been suggested by some officers that a trip to the PTC is nothing more than a holiday. I can only speak from my own experiences, attending classes from first thing in the morning to last thing in the evening, undergoing twice daily sessions of incredibly painful sessions of physiotherapy (along with the accompanying exercises numerous times a day......and wearing shocking pink physio tape on my arm for a week). This isn't my idea of a holiday; it's rehabilitation. It's being assisted through physical injury, stress, depression or anxiety with various treatments to help officers return to work. Surely this can only be beneficial to both us as police officers and BTP as an organisation?

I have almost 26 years' police service and a few grey hairs. It's fair to say I've attended a few courses and different forces' training facilities etc over the years but I can honestly say this is the only place I have had the pleasure of being a guest where everybody, officers and staff, were genuinely happy and content and nobody had a bad word to say about anybody else or another force.... well maybe NICHE was mentioned!

Cup of coffee a week or payment into the PTC.....no brainer really.

Matt Rodgers
D Division

We have more information on the Police Treatment Centres on our website. You read more about the charity, watch videos about the facilities and treatment, and download a joining form.