CSP’s position on the ‘shortage occupations’ list

Year published: 2019

The 'shortage occupations' list determines which occupations get preferential treatment in the allocation of visas for overseas workers. It is drawn up by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a group of independent academics. 

To be listed, a profession has to be:

  • classed as skilled
  • be in shortage in the view of the MAC
  • there can’t be a reasonable prospect of meeting the shortage through UK action.

Physiotherapists are not on the latest list. The list does not apply to support workers who, wrongly in our view, are not regarded as skilled by the UK government.

The current visa rules make it very difficult for our members, who are not UK or European nationals, to live and work in the UK for more than a temporary period. We are arguing for reform of the visa system to make it easier for both physiotherapists and physio support workers to work in the UK.

The CSP believes there is a shortage of physiotherapists in all parts of the UK. This is based on evidence of demand and supply trends.  It points to the need to continue to increase supply. We have been working to increase the supply of UK trained physios. This has increased preregistration student places by over 30% across the UK. This success would make it difficult to get the MAC to judge that supply can’t be met from within the UK.

The CSP’s policy on overseas physios is, in summary:

  • Support overseas-qualified physiotherapists and support workers in the UK - colleagues from around the world are vital to meeting the needs of patients, given current staff shortages. They are welcomed and supported by the CSP as members.
  • Changing the visa rules - the UK government is reviewing the visa system. We are arguing to replace the shortage occupation based system with one which recognises the value of healthcare staff of all types.
  • Supporting developing healthcare systems - we believe the international movement of physios is good for the development of the profession, but we also support World Health Organisation and WCPT policies to protect developing healthcare systems from exploitation.

The UK government is reviewing whether to retain the shortage occupation list. Whilst it exists we will keep under review the option of seeking shortage occupation listing for physiotherapy.  We will also continue to lobby for more fundamental reform and for further investment in UK training, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

For more detail on our position please download our position statement, linked below.

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