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Independent jobs

Although there are still hundreds of graduates out of work, more and more jobs are being created both outside the NHS and in different ways within the health service. In the 20 February issue we highlighted some of these initiatives. Here we continue to look at what is being done, with a report on what's happening in the independent sector

BMI Healthcare has taken on two junior physiotherapists to work for six months each in inpatients and outpatients at the Clementine Churchill hospital in Harrow, west London.

Head of physiotherapy Chandra Mendis was so struck by the plight of jobless graduate physios that he created the rotations to give physios a chance to consolidate their learning in a private sector setting. Their work includes orthopaedics, women's health and general surgery.

'We hadn't employed juniors before but I had support from the organisation and it's been done very well,' said Mr Mendis.

Being aware of customer care skills was imperative to working in the private sector, as patients tended to have higher expectations than those in the NHS, he said.

The move has also required a cultural shift in the organisation to accept graduates. 'It can be done but it needs a competency framework and the staff ownership has to be there. I can't do it on my own,' he said.

Nicola Powell, one of the juniors, said: 'At the moment I have five to six patients. I'm getting lots of great experience here with plenty of time to read patient notes and do research. And I've just started in hydrotherapy.'

Elsewhere, Dorothy Toyne, head of physiotherapy at Pinehill hospital, Hertfordshire - part of the Ramsay Health Group (formerly Capio) - said she is seeing an increasing number of opportunities for new graduates within large independent sector hospitals, including 20 appointments in the Ramsay group.

Ms Toyne has been gathering data on newly qualified physios working in the independent sector, for the CSP's graduate action group.

'There are certainly more opportunities in independent hospitals than within small private practices, which face the challenges of insurance issues meaning some patients can only be treated by physios with a certain amount of experience,' she said.

Meanwhile, Cardiff and Vale trust plans to develop NHS rotation posts from April, with independent sector provider Bupa and some small private physio practices. Originally, it was intended that newly graduated physios would take these five-month places, however concerns over their practical experience has made it more likely band 6 physios or, possibly more experienced band 5s will be taken on.

Alun Morgan, head of physiotherapy, said the move could create a gap to support newly qualified physios within the trust. 'We need to trial this with more experienced physios first. If it works, we can start looking at the opportunities for less experienced physios,' he said.


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Louise Hunt

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19 March 2008

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