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Undergraduate training cuts risk future of profession

Cuts in the provision of undergraduate training and education for physiotherapy students risks the future of the physiotherapy profession, delegates were warned.

Mel Stewart from the West Midlands network said that the axing of the undergraduate physiotherapy programme at the University of East London (UEL) was ‘extremely concerning’.

In January it was announced that UEL would no longer receive funding to run its physiotherapy programmes, following the strategic health authority’s move to introduce a competitive tendering process for training providers (Frontline, 1 February).

Overall the number of university places for physiotherapy in the capital will be cut by 13 per cent.

‘Our training systems are established to ensure world class health care…there is a lack of clarity about how commissioning in education takes place. We need the whole picture and not just piecemeal data supplied by strategic health authorities,’ Ms Stewart said.

However, one delegate warned of the ‘heartbreak’ when newly qualified physiotherapists could not find a job.

Council member Ann Green disagreed and said that the issue was one about effective workforce planning. ‘We need to be educating a sufficient number of physiotherapists.

This is about ensuring that universities can’t just turn the tap on and off…if that happens it means we can’t maintain the quality of education.’

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