Free NHS dance injuries clinic to open in London next year

Natalie Woolman
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Dancers will be able to use the first specialist clinic within the NHS for injuries they sustain at work from next year.

The facility marks the first phase of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science. A similar service, the Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries, was established by and for Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2002.

Based at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, the London service will be free at the point of access for dancers and available to all.

Professional association Dance UK and its partners, which include the Jerwood Centre in Birmingham, Trinity Laban and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, decided to establish the facility as the first phase of the national institute in order to do something “practical”.

The partners have raised £120,000 out of a target of £500,000 for the national institute, some of which will go towards funding a physiotherapist within the new clinic, who will act as the first point of contact for dancers and can refer them to specialists within the hospital. Other funds will be released for additional health provision in Birmingham.

Dance UK director Caroline Miller stressed that the organisation still aimed to establish dance health hubs across the UK, in places where there are high concentrations of dancers working.

She said: “We don’t want to keep waiting. This is a really pressing problem and we have had this vision for some years now and we have been fundraising and it is time to do something practical. We have found a practical way that we can start and I think dancers are going to be so appreciative of that.”

Miller said around 80% of dancers were injured annually and estimated that about 1,000 performers could benefit from the clinic every year. She added that it was vital that dancers were made aware of it and began to use it because “if enough dancers use it, this will become a permanent, embedded part of the services in the NHS”.

Donors to the national institute campaign so far include the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, the Society of London Theatre and the Theatrical Management Association, and dancefloor specialist British Harlequin. The Big Give campaign has also raised around £8,000 of individual donations.

Meanwhile, Dance UK is still in talks with Arts Council England after finding out that it is not part of the new national portfolio and will not receive core funding beyond 2012.

Miller said: “We have been in conversations with ACE since March and we really hope it comes to a positive outcome because there are some things that we do that, at the moment, are not easily replaced or replicated by anybody else in the industry.”

Dance UK will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, and is planning to publish a history of the organisation.

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