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Services are facing yet more cuts

Physiotherapy managers are being asked to make bigger cuts to their services than those required by other areas of the NHS, according to a new CSP survey.

The confidential survey of senior physiotherapy staff in England, to which more than a third of trusts replied, found that 85 per cent have been asked, or expect to be asked, to cut their budget in this financial year.

Of these, 62 per cent said they had been asked to make savings of more than three per cent - above the 2.5 per cent efficiency saving required of the wider NHS.

As a result of this squeeze, over two-thirds of the managers said inadequate staffing levels were obstructing service modernisation, with the same number saying waiting times were set to lengthen and a fifth saying patients were staying in hospital longer.

Caroline Brown, CSP steward at University Hospital of North Staffordshire trust, said physiotherapy had been hit harder than other areas in her trust.

Ms Brown said although there had been across-the-board cuts of 10 per cent in the last financial year, there was not the flexibility in physiotherapy to make savings in ways other than reducing staff.

'Other wards have been able to cut back on equipment expenditure, but we haven't had that option,' she said.

Ms Brown added there had been a restructuring of services to fit five planned ward closures, involving cutting, freezing and regarding posts, but the wards had stayed open, meaning there were now fewer physios covering the same areas.

'It certainly feels as though physios have been targeted first,' she added.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital trust steward Simon O'Shea said his service had not borne more of the cuts, but low staffing levels meant much higher workloads.

He said: 'Our trust is better off than some, but the reality is we are working with far fewer staff, that we are on minimum staffing levels.'

A CSP analysis of the latest set of Department of Health hospital episode statistics, released at the same time as the survey results, showed one in ten people admitted to hospital in England need physiotherapy.

Commenting on the budget cuts, CSP chief executive Phil Gray said: 'It's absurd that physiotherapy services are being hit so hard when demand is so high.'

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