The UK government has recently released a shortage occupation list detailing the professions of which the country is most in need. Potential immigrants working in these careers are eligible for visa discounts and certain exemptions to encourage people with much-needed skillsets to come to the UK.
However, physiotherapy has not been included on the list, despite there being evidence of a staff shortage. This is likely due to the potential to train up more physiotherapists from the UK, as one of the tests to see whether a profession belongs on the shortage occupation list is whether or not there is a way of meeting demand for jobs domestically.
The other tests determine whether or not the role is genuinely skilled, and if there is clear evidence of a staff shortage. Physiotherapy passes both of these. This is something the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) reviews on a regular basis, and the organisation responded to the government’s decision with a call for more training.
“Despite the vacancy rates across the NHS and elsewhere, physiotherapists have not been recommended for inclusion on the shortage occupation list,” said the CSP’s policy director Rob Yeldham. “This means that the governments in all four UK countries must support expansion of training in the UK to meet the growing demand for physiotherapy.”
This is particularly necessary in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there is a much more pronounced need for more physiotherapists and less training available. Wales has been expanding its physiotherapy training, but could still benefit from increasing this so as to meet demand beyond the NHS.
In England, the number of physiotherapy students has increased by 40 per cent over the last few years. However, while this is a positive statistic, the review of student funding could have a major effect on how attractive studying the subject at university is.
Written by Matthew Horton
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