Physio Graduates’ Demo Over Jobs

Dozens of physiotherapists who trained in Wales but have been unable to find a professional NHS job are to protest outside the Senedd on Tuesday.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said 50 graduates from 2006 were still looking for jobs and only a quarter of this year’s 114 students were in posts.

The society claims this was despite more than 4,000 people in Wales waiting for a physiotherapy appointment.

The assembly government said it was working to secure jobs for graduates.

Health Minister Edwina Hart also said that she was happy to meet the protesters.

Around 60 newly or recently-trained physiotherapists are expected to lobby AMs to press their case and the event will also include an informal “drop-in” session.

Final-year physiotherapy students graduate from their three-year course at Cardiff University on Wednesday.

The society says many of the graduates face being forced to accept jobs in bars, shops and warehouses to make ends meet.

A spokeswoman said: “Three to four years ago the NHS predicted they would need all these graduates, but in the current financial situation, the jobs just haven’t materialised.

“It’s not a case that there are too many physiotherapists. It is a case that there are not enough jobs. Yet we have people waiting for physiotherapy operations.”

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy spokeswoman said more than 500 people in Wales were waiting over six months for physiotherapy treatment and more than 4,000 were waiting three-to-six-months for treatment.

One of those expected at the demonstration is 20-year-old Amy Charles.

She now works as a waitress at a Cardiff restaurant and starts a second job in a call centre next month.

She said: “I’ve applied for every physiotherapy job going in Wales and for a couple in my home town in Wiltshire. I’ve had two interviews.

“It’s really bad. I didn’t train to do a specific degree and not get the job I trained to do. Now I’m doing a job I could have done straight out of school, and I’m in debt.

“I’ve committed to living in Wales but can’t get a job I trained to do in Wales.”

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said NHS Wales had enough jobs last year to “almost match the number of students qualifying in Wales”.

He said: “We do not want to lose these valuable professionals from the NHS.

“We are therefore working with local health boards, trusts and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to secure new opportunities for graduates.

“Physiotherapy is no longer a shortage profession and all interested parties must now work collaboratively and innovatively to ensure we maximise the benefits and opportunities this situation presents.”