Medical rehabilitation in 2011 and beyond


Report of a working party, published November 2011

Supported by the British Society for Rehabilitation Medicine.

The report will help health professionals in accessing rehabilitative care for patients by improving understanding of clinical pathways, the field of competence and the role of rehabilitation specialists within teams. Professor Amanda Howe, RCGP

This working party report examines the current state of rehabilitation medicine and considers how it is likely to develop over the coming years.

The report revises the definitions around rehabilitation medicine, in line with current practice. It also places rehabilitation in the broader context of acute illness management, arguing that commissioning - in the format newly proposed by the coalition government - should support interdisciplinary practice and clinical pathways which reflect the widespread overlap with other areas of medicine. Standards of practice are also discussed in the context of the National Service Framework for long-term neurological conditions.

The report argues that, while shorter-term programmes are functioning well, longer-term pathways need to integrate high-intensity treatments, greater consideration of the individual's participation in life, vocational needs, family relationships, and the need to return to as normal a life as possible.

Empirical proof of the effectiveness of rehabilitation is hard to gather. This document draws on evidence from a wide range of papers, reviews and Cochrane collaborations, to support the argument for increased investment in rehabilitation medicine for the future, embracing technological innovations and providing high-quality personalised care.

This report, which is available to download,  is essential reading, not just for rehabilitation medicine physicians, but also specialists in stroke, palliative, acute, geriatric medicine and neurology. It also contains guidance for current commissioners, planners and providers of healthcare and social care, and for GP's for their clinical practice as well as for their commissioning work in the future.


  • Patient and carer perspectives
  • What is rehabilitation medicine?
  • Clinical pathways in rehabilitation medicine in various conditions
  • Evidence for the effectiveness of rehabilitation medicine
  • Standards and training
  • Commissioning rehabilitation medicine services for people with complex disability 2011-2020
  • Future perspectives for the specialty

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