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More than 20,000 patients have been added to the already-long waiting lists to see a physiotherapist in Scotland in the past two years alone, figures show.
Data from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) in Scotland indicates that staff shortages and a lack of support and funding from the Scottish government are leaving many patients suffering from joint or muscle pain for longer than they should be, the Times reports.
Overall, there are currently 140 vacancies for physiotherapists within the Scottish NHS, 44 of which have been empty for at least three months.
It is therefore clear that extra physiotherapists are needed to ease the burden on current healthcare staff, and until the government organises more training places for staff, physios who are willing to work on a temporary contract basis may find themselves in higher demand.
The statistics show that at the end of 2017, a total of 6,295 people had been on the waiting list to see a physiotherapist in Scotland for at least 16 weeks.
What's more, 90 per cent of patients are meant to have their first physiotherapy appointment within four weeks of visiting their doctor for the first time, but data shows that this was the case for just over half (53 per cent) of patients in the final few months of last year.
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison stated: "We're working with NHS boards to help address physiotherapy and improve performance."
However, Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, spokesman for the CSP in Scotland, said: "This problem is not going to go away. One of the key features of the new GP contract and plans to transform community care is the role of the physiotherapist as a first point of contact."
If this is indeed to be the case, then more physiotherapists will be needed across the Scottish health service than ever before, opening up plenty of new opportunities for both locums and newly qualified physios looking for full-time permanent roles.
Written by Mathew Horton
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