How the election might impact physiotherapy and the NHS

The NHS is becoming one of the key issues for the General Election.  So what do we know so far about the views on the issues that matter to physiotherapists, student physios and physio support workers?

by Rob Yeldham

The CSP is politically engaged but not partisan. We don’t seek to influence how members or the public vote. But it is a core part of our role to comment on behalf of the profession on the policies politicians propose. The CSP are lobbying parties and candidates in line with our strategic priorities.  

Here's what the UK-wide parties are saying




Lib Dems


NHS, public health and social care funding

The NHS budget will go up by £33.9 billion by 2023-24

Increase spending to £154.9 billion by 2023-24 - a 4.3% average annual increase

Broadly matching Labour spending plan, but some of the money will be spent on social care

Similar funding level to Labour and Lib Dems plus £1billon for nurse education

First contact physio

Committed to providing 6000 more clinicians, including physios, in primary care

Build interdisciplinary services across primary care

Support appropriate use of physios in primary care

Not declared

Support for community rehab manifesto 

Not declared

Will allocate a greater proportion of funding to “close-to-home health services”

Not declared

Not declared

Expansion of physio training places, protecting funding for students & HEIs and no return to caps

Focus on training doctors

Would reintroduce bursary for nurses and allied health professionals


Would reintroduce bursaries for student mental health and learning disability nurses

Focus on reinstating bursaries for nurses, scrap tuition fees and write off some past fees

Invest in upskilling support workers and in developing advanced practice

No new proposals at this stage

Would  invest, train and develop NHS staff throughout their careers 

Would restore funding to HEE’s CPD budget

Support workers may benefit from adult education funding proposal

Support workers may benefit from adult education funding proposal

Not declared

Action to retain physios and support workers from overseas

NHS visa for AHPs

NHS will be able to recruit overseas staff

Would make the current registration process more flexible

Would encourage EU staff to work in public services

Would retain free movement in Europe

Fair pay for all physios and physios support workers in all four UK countries and across sectors

Existing NHS pay deal

Scrap public  sector pay cap



Incentive payments to work in rural or inner city areas

Not declared


Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens are offering more spending than the Conservatives. The independent health think tanks say the Labour, Lib Dem and Green proposals could stabilise the NHS, but are not enough for major transformation to improve services and outcomes for communities.

Community rehabilitation has not yet been mentioned by any party. This is perhaps because all the parties, although signed up to a shift to the community between elections, fear the public will only understand promises about hospitals. This underestimates the appetite amongst the public to see improvements in more locally based healthcare. We have seen some individual candidates backing #RightToRehab

Labour are proposing to introduce so-called “safe staffing” limits. The CSP has opposed this as nursing focused and counter productive outside narrow areas of acute care. They do indicate this would cover all staff, not just nurses. The real problem is lack of clinical staff supply, not the NHS not wanting to employ more clinical staff.

Bursaries seem flavor of the month with opposition parties. The Lib Dem and Green bursary proposals do not mention AHPs, so we assume physio students would not benefit from bursaries. Without more detail on Labour’s bursary proposals, which we have asked for, we cannot judge whether their plan will address the physio supply problem or make them worse. The amounts payable to students need to be at least as much as loans, HEI funding needs to be guaranteed and there must be no return to a cap on numbers.

Around 14% of the current physio workforce are from overseas including the EU. So pledges on visas from the main parties sound positive, but the devil may yet be in the detail. One positive development however was the Conservative minister explicitly mentioning physios in this context.

Health is devolved to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, some parties are using the Westminster election to set out their stall on health. The DUP has committed to supporting the expansion of first contact physiotherapy, as have the Conservatives. The SNP are proposing UK wide legislation to prevent the NHS being included in any future trade talks.

The CSP will not be providing a running commentary of the election debate. However as major announcements are made we may comment. Follow #RobYeldham on Twitter for real time news.

Note - figures quoted are from the parties and are not verified independently.

Updated 21 November.

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