Health boards in Wales are delaying filling physiotherapy vacancies to save money, leaving physio services stretched, a comprehensive series of CSP freedom of information requests has found.
The CSP has published a report ‘Delivering under pressure’, based on the information requests, which asked all seven Welsh health boards, and Velindre NHS Trust, whether physiotherapy posts were being lost, down-banded, or unduly delayed by vacancy control processes.
The report found that physio posts remained unfilled for an average of three months, although some boards reported average times of five to six months to fill vacancies.
This is the second year that the CSP has surveyed Welsh boards’ physiotherapy staffing levels, and the latest data revealed that 19.79 whole time equivalent physiotherapy posts were discontinued in 2011/12.
This compares with a drop in posts of 40.77 in 2010/11.
Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust deputy head of physiotherapy services, and CSP council vice-chair, Sue Rees, said this year’s smaller drop in posts may have been masked by extra Welsh Government funding for orthopaedic posts, including physiotherapy.
But Ms Rees said the delays in filling vacancies were causing real problems for physiotherapy services across Wales.
‘We are not able to provide clinical cover when we get these extended gaps, which is obviously proving difficult,’ she said.
CSP policy officer for Wales, Philippa Ford, said the society would be raising the issue of a ‘very robust vacancy control process’ with Welsh government civil servants.
CSP council chair, Helena Johnson, has also discussed the report’s findings with the Welsh government’s therapy advisor, and the special advisor to the Welsh health minister.
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