South Shields physio set to retire after treating 100,000 patients during 30-year career
A physiotherapist who has helped more than 100,000 people in South Tyneside during a career spanning three decades is set to retire after a year like no other.
Judith Briggs, 55, will say goodbye to colleagues and patients at Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre on June 3, where she has been based for the last 11 years working as a senior physio for Connect Health.
Judith, from East Boldon, provides musculoskeletal physiotherapy services for people of all ages and has worked all over South Tyneside, in the likes of GP surgeries and the town’s hospital, during her 30 year career.
"The beauty of musculoskeletal physiotherapy is that you work with all ages, but I have liked working with the kids, it is nice seeing them and working through with them,” she said.
“I have also liked working with the elderly as it is nice to help keep them as fit and active as you can.”
Judith ensures she practices what she preaches when it comes to exercise and enjoys swimming in the sea, as well as teaching pilates classes in Cleadon, East Boldon and Harton – something she plans to continue after her retirement.
But her final year of work has proven to be one of the most challenging of all, as those in the profession were faced with the task of treating patients remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We started off with no face to face and we were just doing telephone consultations,” Judith said.
"At first that worked really well as people were just so grateful to have any help that we could give them.
"We would ring them up or they could ring us and we could offer things over the phone and send out exercises and review things.
"As things have progressed we are doing a bit more face to face.”
Ahead of her retirement, Judith says she has been ‘touched’ by the response from patients and colleagues who are sad to see her go.
"I have seen quite a lot of people over the course of my time in South Tyneside and I have got to know some people quite well,” she said.
“It is quite amazing when you think of the number [of patients over the years].
"Even if you can make just a little bit of difference to a patient it means the world.
"That is the job satisfaction that you get.”
But Judith says it is also the variety of the job that has ensured it remained an interesting career for so many years.
"You get all ages and conditions and then have to tailor how you treat people, how you get them to help themselves and factor in their individual needs," she said.
"Some people can be quite active but some people won’t have done any exercise for years and you have to try and get them involved and use a different approach for them.
“It is very much tailored to the individual; there is no one shoe that fits all.”