Letters - 6 February 2013

Get involved now by sending your contributions by email to talkback@csp.org.uk or write to Letters, Frontline, 14 Bedford Row London WC1R 4ED. Letters should be no more than 250 words. Frontline reserves the right to edit letters. Please ensure you include your name, address and a daytime telephone number.

Level Playing Field

It was disappointing to see an advertisement for an unpaid internship masquerading as a letter in Frontline 23 January (‘Situations vacant’).

There are several problems with this. The first is that it devalues the role of research. If the research and product of the research is considered important it should be paid for.

The second and more fundamental problem is the impact on widening participation.

Even deputy prime minister Nick Clegg recognises that if new graduates are to be expected to have undertaken this type of opportunity to make them successful at interview it is unfair. Unpaid internships are only possible for people with sufficient resources, such as financial and family support, to enable them to work unpaid.

This example is just one of a number of recruitment practices that creates an unfair playing field for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In recent years recruiting staff have developed a number of strategies to manage the high volume of applications including short application windows, entrance exams and further recognition of extra-curricular activity.

We think that internships only add to the extra-curricular expectations that are likely to leave some graduates feeling dispirited.  

The CSP has spoken against unpaid volunteers performing physiotherapy work, as it devalues our profession and allows employers to take advantage of current restricted employment opportunities.

This should be seen in the same light.  

I appreciate the intentions of the letter writer were to offer something extra but the result is a free post with free advertising.
Chris Manning, senior lecturer, and John Hammond, associate dean (widening participation), Kingston University, St George’s University of London

The editor responds: The letter was published in good faith.
However, we would like to remind members that the CSP does not routinely support physiotherapy graduates undertaking unpaid work or unpaid internships as physiotherapists.

In guidance published last year the CSP acknowledged that short-term unpaid internships may help graduates and enable them to get paid employment, but this cannot be a long-term response to graduate unemployment.

To download the document, visit: www.csp.org.uk and search for ‘unpaid internships’.

End of an era

It is with regret that I am writing to inform you of the forthcoming closure of our Allied Health Professions Support Service (AHPSS) including the Resource Centre at the University of East London at the end of March.  

Since 1991, we have provided information, advice and practical support to many AHP disabled students and employees throughout the UK, as well as delivering training and consultancy services to a wide range of academic, clinical and disability staff.

In spite of our considerable efforts and vigorous campaigning by our customers and supporters, we have
been unable to re-negotiate our contract with NHS London.

Our service will, therefore, cease to exist at the end of March.

We are extremely disappointed and saddened by this situation, not only as the providers of a high quality service but also – and most importantly – on behalf of the many disabled people who have relied on our support during the past 21 years.  Our website (see below) will, however, remain live until 31 March 2014.

Visitors to the site will still be able to download the documents that are available on our resources page.

The mobile number given below can be used by anyone wishing to contact me for additional clarification regarding this situation.

On behalf of our staff team, may I take this opportunity to express our sincere regret that we shall be unable to provide services in the future.  
Jane Owen Hutchinson, manager, AHPSS  Tel: 07748 657457 Website: www.ahpss.co.uk

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