Meet John Turner – our Manchester Orthotics Lead
At the beginning of 2020, we welcomed John Turner to our team of orthotists. He brings with him more than 25 years’ experience and has ambitious plans to expand our orthotic services in and around Manchester. We recently caught up with him to explore his background, what makes him passionate about working at LOC, and where he hopes the Manchester clinic will go next.
Can you tell us a bit about your background – how did you start in the field of orthotics?
I’ve been in this industry a long time! My Grandad was disabled at the age of nine and learned how to make orthopaedic shoes, mainly because it was a job he could do while sitting down. I eventually trained with him. After that, I went to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre at Oxford University Hospitals and from there ended up working in southeast England, not far away from LOC’s Kingston clinic.
After I married and had children we headed back to the north west and I followed a paediatric route – working with kids really suited my personality. I worked in clinics contracting to the NHS for the next 25 years or so before Sam [Walmsley – LOC lead orthotist and director] asked me to help set up a full Manchester clinic. I jumped at the chance, partly for the opportunity to work with Elaine Owen, who is a world-renowned physiotherapist and runs a monthly clinic at our Gait Laboratory in Kingston. It was also a wonderful opportunity to work with a team of people who are all outstanding at what they do.
You joined LOC in January 2020, how did you find the switch?
Because of the pandemic frankly it has been a challenge, but a good one for me personally. I’m learning a lot of new techniques. We are now waiting to re-open our clinic at Salford University when we will be able to take full advantage of the teaching hospital’s Gait Laboratory, workshop and gymnasium (for scoliosis exercises). One of the best things about my role here is the fact that I get to work so closely with LOC’s in-house manufacturing team.
Why is that so important?
Having the manufacturing team on hand is incredible – it puts LOC ahead of the game in terms of treatments and speed with which we can help patients.
From my point of view as an orthotist, it gives me a greater degree of collaboration – the chance to really tailor a treatment for every individual patient. To have that day-to-day communication is essential, but you rarely see that in the NHS.
I think it’s great for the patient as well – they can see the team on site making their splints and that creates a greater degree of confidence, especially because there’s always a lot tweaking involved, to make sure an orthotic fits the individual. Having a manufacturing team on site means that you can make adjustments quickly, instead of sending the orthotic offsite to a third party and having to wait a couple of weeks for the work to get done. I haven't worked anywhere else that’s as fast and responsive as LOC.
What other differences are there between working with LOC versus your previous roles?
I think it’s the ability to tap into the broader experience of the team. Just being able to sit next to a colleague who is, for example, an expert on spinal x-rays, ask his or her advice there and then and then go back to your patient or into the workshop to make those adjustments straight away is invaluable.
There are other obvious differences – private clinics come with more cost, of course, but what I like about LOC’s ethos is that we are very transparent with patients. We understand that they are spending a lot of money and we want them to have all the information they need to make that decision.
On the flip side, NHS patients all too often end up with off-the-shelf orthotics that simply don’t fit. That causes all sorts of secondary problems.
What are your hopes in terms of building up the Manchester clinic?
I think we have a chance to help a lot of people who live further north and may be put off by the prospect of travelling down to London. So, I’d like potential patients to see it as world-class unit in its own right, not just an offshoot of the Kingston head office. I absolutely want it to be an extension of everything patients have come to expect from LOC but I’d love it if one day we had members of the team coming up here to learn from us!
If someone is considering whether to go private, why would you encourage them to talk to LOC?
I love the fact that this team never leaves a stone unturned when it comes to new techniques. Sam is always pushing us to learn the latest skills and use the latest technology. He gets stuck in himself, which is inspiring. All of that means our patients get access to the most up-to-date advice and cutting-edge treatment. Right from the first contact we make, I think the experience patients have at LOC is outstanding.
Interested in visiting our Manchester Clinic?
View full LOC Manchester clinic details here.