Obituary: Carol Payne, Clinical Physiotherapy Specialist

Tribute to a research champion and member of CAHPR East Anglia

Carol died unexpectedly on 24 January 2024 in the NNUH, where she had dedicated her life’s work.

From an early age Carol immediately realised her calling to physiotherapy and adored helping patients. Her strong ambition and steely determination set the high standards by which she was to conduct her professional life.  She first joined UCL Hospital and went on to Norwich, where she was to spend the next 44 years in dedicated clinical practice and advanced research.

Carol found talents far beyond treating patients, fiercely advocating for advances in physiotherapy.  As a leader at NNUH, Carol was deeply insightful and practiced person-centred mentoring, striving for excellence and supporting aspirations. She understood the psychology of physiotherapy, and this underpinned her holistic approach.  Her care involved the wider aspects of patients’ lives, whose fulsome testimonials clearly demonstrate her personalised approach to their care.

Carol was instrumental in making the NNUH physiotherapy department “research ready.”  She selflessly supported allied health professionals (AHP) pursuing research locally, regionally, and nationally.  She was a Research Champion, presenting her survey of UK AHP research capacity at “Physiotherapy UK.” (2023).  She was a committee member of the British Elbow and Shoulder Society (BESS) and provided academic reviews, while still finding time to lecture at the UEA’s School of Health Sciences.  Her research took her to Japan and the US.  

She won many accolades; the BESS award in 2014, the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists award (2016), and a Trust Lifetime Achievement award (2022) recognised her career since 1980.  She won a pioneering NHS England accreditation as an Advanced Practitioner, following an extensive peer review (2024) and was a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.  However, her real pleasure came from the positive comments of her patients.  She was proud to use her injection skills in the NNUH vaccination team during Covid-19. 

Carol was born in 1955 in Cranford, Northamptonshire.  She loved walking the dog, riding the village horse on the green, and doing handstands up against the house. She proved her aptitude for sport and science at Kettering High School and that led her to The West Middlesex Hospital.

She loved museums and art and was a Pre-Raphaelites’ expert.  Her embroidery skills filled her Norwich city flat.   She is fondly remembered for cryptic crosswords, Radley handbags, pink lipstick, Jo Malone, purple purses, and Thursday hairdresser dates.  Her father infused her with a lifelong passion for cricket, and Test Match Special was avidly followed – especially when England were beating the Aussies. 

Carol was a generous, carefully-tailored gift giver to therapy charities and UNICEF.   She leaves an enduring research legacy for future patients; and nearly half a century of former patients who benefited from her clinical excellence, dedication, ambition, and high standards.  Carol was a modest and private person, yet interested in people as a kind, thoughtful, and caring colleague.  Her chats, laughs, and particular turn of phrase are deeply missed.

Carol died unexpectedly of heart failure on 24 January 2024 in the NNUH, where she had dedicated her life’s work. She was working two days before and left a conference early the day before.

A book of condolences is in the NNUH Hospital Chapel for colleagues to leave their tributes to Carol.

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