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Junior Physiotherapists lobby MSPs

25 October 2006 - 10:55am

Two hundred final year students and graduates of physiotherapy courses in Scotland are converging on the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25 October to lobby MSPs over job prospects


STRICT EMBARGO 00.01 Wednesday 25 October 2006


Junior Physiotherapists lobby MSPs

Survey: 81% of junior physiotherapists unemployed while 28,000 patients wait to see a physiotherapist

Image © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body 2006

Two hundred final year students and graduates of physiotherapy courses in Scotland are converging on the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 25 October to lobby MSPs over their very limited chances of finding employment in the profession they have spent four years studying to enter.

Four months after graduating, 81% of physiotherapy graduates who responded to a Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) survey stated that they were still looking for their first junior physiotherapy post. Of the 187 students who graduated in July this year, 101 responded, and 80 told the CSP they are still without their first physio job. Only 9 replied to say they had found permanent employment, with a further ten on short-term contacts.

The situation is set to worsen over the next three months, as a further 60 physio students complete their studies and join the job hunt.

Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP Policy Officer for Scotland said

'We already know of eighty junior physiotherapists without jobs. Even if virtually every other graduate who has not yet been in contact is in full time physiotherapy employment, we still have a situation in which almost half of this year's graduates are without junior posts. It is vital that these graduates find work in physiotherapy and maintain their skills. Statistics show that the vast majority of those that are not employed within one year of graduation will be lost to the profession permanently, because without practice they quickly lose their skills.'

£2.5 million down the drain

CSP Scotland estimates that it costs taxpayers in Scotland £28,580 to train a single physiotherapy graduate. But the country’s physiotherapy graduates are now taking up work in the leisure and service industries, while others report finding work abroad in the USA, France and New Zealand, potentially £2.5 million of wasted investment.

28,000 patients on waiting lists for physiotherapy in Scotland

The CSP report comes at a time when the shortage of senior physiotherapists is affecting services across Scotland (see note 1). Figures produced for the first time this year reveal that 28,000 patients are on physiotherapy waiting lists. All the evidence shows that the longer patients wait for treatment, the more likely it is that their condition will become chronic (see note 2).

Furthermore, physiotherapists are concerned that Scotland’s ageing population is going to place a huge level of demand on services for older people in the future, and more physiotherapy staff will be needed in the community to provide treatment and promote independent living.

‘Any cut in the number of physiotherapists would be very short sighted,’ said Kenryck Lloyd-Jones. ‘After four years of hard work and study the disappointment these junior physiotherapists face is enormous. The investment of their own and their family resources, and their dedication to the NHS, will be thrown away. More physiotherapists are already needed, and Scotland's ageing population means an expansion of the profession will be essential. With 28,000 patients on physiotherapy waiting lists there is a risk of patients' conditions becoming chronic unless there is early physiotherapy intervention. We have the opportunity to act to prevent a crisis, and it must be taken. If we do not employ and train our junior therapists, we will not have the senior or specialist physiotherapists we will certainly need in the future.'

 Notes to Editors

1. CSP Scotland believes it is ironic that while junior physiotherapists cannot find employment, over 28,000 patients in Scotland are on waiting lists of up to one year to see a physiotherapist. All the evidence points to the benefits of early intervention, and the risk of incapacity through chronicity increases with every week a patient remains on a physiotherapy waiting list. The majority of patients off work with a musculoskeletal injury who do not see a physiotherapist within six months are unlikely to ever work again. The reverse is also true, in that early physiotherapy intervention (within three weeks) ensures that the majority can and do return to work.

2. Unfilled vacancies in numerous health board areas demonstrate the demand for physiotherapists. The contribution of physiotherapy to the NHS is increasing as senior clinicians screen patients on consultant waiting lists, slashing waiting lists by 83% and reducing waiting times from forty weeks to six weeks in impact assessments.

3. An ageing Scottish population is also going to place a huge future demand on physiotherapy services for older people, and more will be needed in the community to offer treatment and promote independent living. Without health promotion, such as preventing falls, and avoiding increased hospital admissions by retaining independence the NHS will not be able to cater for the increase in demand for older peoples services. For these reasons any cut in the number of physiotherapists would be very short sighted.

4. A number of newly qualified physiotherapists have also been discussing their plight. They can be contacted directly through the CSP Scotland Office.

Case One  ‘It has been desperately disappointing to fail to find work. I’m so determined to become a physiotherapist and have studied so hard to get this far. I’m working as a lifeguard at my local leisure centre, it’s only a casual job but it’s better than nothing. I’ve applied for about ten jobs, and at one of them I was told that they sent out 273 notifications to new graduates that had sent them CVs, before the post was even advertised. The last junior job I went for had 48 applicants – it was a temporary post. It doesn’t offer you much hope.’

Case Two ‘I only know of three fellow students that have managed to secure a full time physiotherapy position, and I know two who are applying for jobs in Canada and New Zealand, which is a loss to Scotland. I’ve applied for every junior physio job in Scotland, whether central belt or in rural areas. At my last job interview there were another fifty interviewed from over one hundred applicants. I’m working as a receptionist.

Case Three ‘I have applied for so many jobs I’ve lost count, it’s very disheartening. I’m currently working as a rehabilitation assistant, but I didn’t study for four years to be an assistant, I trained to use clinical skills in the NHS.’

Case Four ‘I guess I’m one of the lucky ones as I have a junior post at the Western General. But it was temporary for three months, so since last year I’ve been employed on a month-to-month basis, with no job security, I’ve had to attend four interviews just to keep my position.

The statistics released today show that of the 187 graduates since June 2006, 101 responded to the survey. Of those, 2 are not seeking employment, 9 have a permanent post, 10 have a temporary post and 80 have no physio post. In previous years almost all could expect to be in employment as junior physiotherapists.

For more information please call Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP Policy Officer for Scotland on 07881957154, or the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616 / 6628


The CSP is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country’s 47,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. For previous releases visit



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