No NHS Jobs for Graduate Physios

Hundreds of physiotherapy students and graduates will gather in Westminster today to demand urgent Government action over the jobs crisis facing thousands of newly qualified physiotherapists. The lobby of Parliament coincides with the release of a new survey from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), which indicates that 93 per cent of this year’s 2,529 physiotherapy graduates, trained at a cost of £73 million to the taxpayer, have no NHS job to go to this summer.

CSP Chief Executive, Phil Gray said: ‘A new generation of physiotherapists trained to help the Government deliver its reform agenda and meet rising patient demand has been frozen out in a round of panic measures aimed at balancing the books in the short-term.

‘Graduate physiotherapists and other health professionals represent the future of the NHS. Failing to utilise their services will hinder the Government’s chances of delivering key manifesto pledges and have a devastating impact on patient care.’ Said Mr Gray.

The CSP highlighted the severe difficulties 2005 graduates faced in securing NHS posts last summer and worked with the Government and committed physiotherapy managers to find solutions that would free up posts and protect patient care. But Mr Gray says the Government failed to heed CSP warnings about employment prospects for 2006 graduates and the impact of NHS financial difficulties, which have resulted in trusts imposing recruitment freezes to tackle mounting deficits. He describes this year’s junior job market as ‘a complete disaster.’

‘We know of talented new physiotherapists who’ve taken work in McDonalds and B&Q, or moved on, disillusioned, to other professions because the Government that once encouraged them into physiotherapy has now shown them the door. This is a cruel waste of their commitment to the NHS, and a major blow to patient care and the public purse.’ Said Mr Gray.

Physiotherapy students and graduates at the lobby will raise the issue with their MPs on the day that Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt faces health questions in the House of Commons. The CSP and its student body want:

1 The employment of new health graduates to become one of the Health Secretary’s NHS priorities
2 All graduates offered a year’s NHS employment to consolidate their skills and get a foot on the career ladder
3 A ‘thaw’ of frozen junior physiotherapy posts and fast-track procedures in place to accelerate existing juniors into more senior roles. This would relieve some of the vacancies at senior level, allowing more experienced physios to get on with meeting key government targets and free posts up for new recruits.

Mr Gray said ‘We’re as keen as the Government to realise key objectives like shorter waiting times and greater choice for patients. Physiotherapists have a key role to play in making those changes but at the moment, the Government is throwing the baby out with the bath water.’