Some of you will be aware that the Police Treatment Centres have for some time been wrestling with some major decisions around our eligibility policy for those entitled to access the PTC, and have also been attempting to check the fall in the number of our donors who provide the bulk of our income and annual running costs. The police landscape has changed considerably in the last 5 – 10 years and there are now many men and women working in roles that have traditionally been carried out exclusively by police officers in the past. These include PCSOs, Special Constables and Detention/Custody Officers. There was a view within the PTC Trustees, that the individuals employed in these roles are very much part of the police family as they work alongside police officers with the same collective aim, and routinely share the same risks and challenges. The PTC Board of Trustees felt that they had a moral responsibility to offer these individuals the same opportunity to donate to the PTC, and then apply for treatment at either of our Centres. We have also lost almost 5000 donors to the PTC in recent years mainly as a result in the reduction in officer numbers, and this has meant a loss in our annual income of £338,000. You will all be aware that we expect further cuts in officer numbers to come, and this will continue to reduce the income for the PTC. We anticipate however, that police officers will be under greater physical and psychological pressures in the future, and that there will be a continued need for the PTC.
To that end the PTC Trustees have directed that from 1 January 2016, we will allow PCSOs, Special Constables and Detention/Custody Officers (employed by the Chief Constable or Police Crime Commissioner)to sign up to donate to the PTC, and that they will be eligible to access treatment at either of our Centres. As well as allowing extended members of the police family the opportunity to access treatment at the PTC, it will also ensure that we remain in a financially strong position by increasing the number of our donors.
Alongside this the Trustees have directed that the PTC will introduce a weekly donation rate of £0.65 for Retired Officers from 1 January 2016, which they will be required to pay if they wish to apply for treatment at the PTC. I have personally spoken to a number of Retired Officers at both our Centres over the last few months, and the vast majority of them have been very supportive of this idea, and stated that they would welcome the opportunity to donate to a police charity doing vital work in support of our serving and retired officers. However, I know that for some of you reading this, the measure will be controversial and perhaps not a welcome change of policy. In the past Retired Officers have been able to access the PTC for treatment for free, and many have done so. We are delighted to have Retired Officers with us at both our Centres, and as well as acknowledging our gratitude to them for their service, most of them are quite simply great people to have around, and contribute to the ethos and atmosphere at the PTC. However, the introduction of a donation charge for Retired Officers is part of a range of measures to ensure both the sustainability and longevity of the PTC, and we are clear that if we do nothing, this will inevitably impact on our future revenue and income, and most critically the service and treatment that we are able to provide to our patients in the future. It is also worth pointing out for clarity, that if you think that you make a donation to the PTC at the moment and that this was a pre-condition of applying to us for treatment that is not correct. The PTC has never required its Retired Officers to make a donation in the past, and has never received any donations to this effect from any third parties or schemes that you may have paid in to. If you wish to be eligible for treatment at the PTC in the future, you must be a donor specifically to the PTC and not any other organisation or scheme.
More details will come out on our webpage over the next few months, through social media and other communiques, but I can assure you that none of these decisions were taken lightly, and the Trustees thought long and hard about each one over many months. I can also inform you that as our part of the bargain at the PTC we are not standing still, but constantly looking to improve our facilities and treatments. If you have not been to stay with us for some time you will notice a massive upgrade to our facilities and real estate at Harrogate, including a new indoor spinning studio, a sensory garden, a new summer house, an outdoor gym, new gym equipment including the Alter G anti-gravity running machines and a range of other improvements. The modernisation of Castlebrae is well under way, and we anticipate we will be delivering a new swimming pool, a new hydrotherapy pool, and a new gym area at this Centre early in 2016. We are also about to create a new appointment entitled the Head of Clinical Services. As well as reviewing and updating the system for how we treat physical injuries, this new appointment has been tasked with creating a 2 week residential psychological well-being programme which will be delivered for patients presenting with non-physical injuries, and exploring what more we can do to support our donors through outreach programmes.
These improvements are all vital to maintain the class leading facilities we pride ourselves on at the PTC, and it is essential that we retain our edge and standards, if we are to continue to provide support and treatment to our serving and retired officers and indeed our new donor groups.
I have written to all your Chief Constables, your PCCs (where you have them) the Chairs of your Federation, and the 3 Retired Officer Associations for England &Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland communicating these changes and I am now trying to reach as many of you as possible.
I hope everyone will understand the need for these developments, and realise that by doing so, we are seeking to secure the future of the PTC, and that this will ensure we put ourselves in the strongest position possible, to support all of you both now and in the future.
More details will come out in due course, but do please free to pass and share this message with as many of your colleagues as possible who will benefit from signing up to donate to the PTC.