Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care » News & Media » News

News | Friday, 27th December 2019

Clinical fellow and consultant physiotherapist to be made an OBE

Dr Sue Greenhalgh ‘delighted and humbled’ by honour in the New Year Honours List

Dr Sue Greenhalgh, a Clinical Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a consultant physiotherapist for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, has been made an OBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours List 
Dr Sue Greenhalgh, a Clinical Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a consultant physiotherapist for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, has been made an OBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours List 

A clinical fellow and consultant physiotherapist has been made an OBE in The Queen’s New Year Honours List. 

Dr Sue Greenhalgh, who joined Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care almost two years ago, is being recognised for services to physiotherapy. 

A consultant physiotherapist for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, she is involved in a number of research projects at the University, especially concerning serious spinal conditions and their pathology – the causes and effects. 

Delightful surprise

Dr Greenhalgh said of the honour: “It was such a surprise. I feel so delighted. I’m very proud, and humbled.  

“I couldn’t have achieved it without working with some inspirational physiotherapists and amazing patients, and I include in that Professor James Selfe.” 

In 2012 Dr Greenhalgh and colleague Prof Selfe, a Professor of Physiotherapy at Manchester Metropolitan University, developed a set of quick-reference diagnostic cards that help medical staff identify ‘red flags’ in a patient’s history, alerting clinicians to the possibility of more serious health issues in people with back pain. 

The aim of the credit card-sized reference cards is to raise awareness of, and improve the diagnosis of, the rare spinal condition cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves at the base of the spine are compressed and can cause pain, numbness or weakness in the lower back, legs, buttock or between the legs. 

If not identified early and treated urgently, it can cause permanent damage to the bladder, bowel and sexual function. 

The diagnostic cards were produced in partnership with Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Sussex MSK Partnership. 

Dr Greenhalgh said: “Our research has been shown to have a practical use, even on an international basis, and the Red Flags cards for cauda equina syndrome have been translated into 31 different languages.” 

Dr Greenhalgh and Prof Selfe now sit on the steering group for an international study developing a framework for the use of the Red Flags in identifying serious pathology of the spine. 

I couldn’t have achieved it without working with some inspirational physiotherapists and amazing patients, and I include in that Professor James Selfe

Spinal conditions

They have also co-authored three books on a similar theme, the latest being ‘Red Flags and Blue Lights’ about spotting the warning signs for serious spinal conditions, which was released a few months ago. 

Along with other colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan, Dr Greenhalgh is involved in a study funded by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists to investigate the experiences of ‘first contact practitioners’ – a new role in which physiotherapists work out of GP practices and perform primary care musculoskeletal consultations of the type that were previously conducted by doctors. 

Reflecting on her appointment as an OBE for services to physiotherapy, Dr Greenhalgh said: “I wanted to be a physiotherapist from the age of seven and was delighted when at 18 years old I began my training at Manchester Royal School of Physiotherapy on Oxford Road — which later became the Department of Health Professions in the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan.” 

More news