Securing a balanced workforce

We continued to respond to the workforce challenges exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic

Impact report

Growing supply 

Workforce supply in the UK grew in 2021 – with more programmes and more places, largely in England and Wales – with an increase in student intake and graduate numbers in 2021. Workforce supply was a greater challenge in Scotland however; and in Northern Ireland supply continued to fall short of demand from the system. 

The lack of effective workforce planning across the UK was a challenge including, in England, a lack of workforce guidance or targets to deliver on significant commitments to expand rehabilitation provision in the NHS Long Term Plan. 

In Wales, the government’s streamlining policies created a bottleneck at graduate entry creating a risk of insufficient posts for graduates. The policy was modified after the CSP raised the issue with the Senedd and with the Welsh government, but the risk to supply continued throughout 2021. The CSP sought to ensure the need for staffing increases was reflected in Integrated Medium Term Plans by working with physiotherapy managers.

Across the UK we strengthened our lobbying of policy makers in all four countries on the need to expand supply to meet demand to deliver policy commitments including the pace of roll out of FCPs and meet growing rehab needs. This was reflected in the CSP input to the Health Education England (HEE) call for evidence on the development of a strategic framework for the health and social care workforce in England over next 15 years.


The CSP continued its placement campaign, seeking to encourage placements in all sectors using innovative placement models. This also included the CSP leading by example and hosting 12 students from 12 different higher education providers. Placements have kept up with growth, although this remains a challenge and a risk.

The CSP developed and launched the Common Placement Assessment Form (CPAF) in order to standardise assessment across all settings to improve quality, diversify settings and actively promote equity, diversity and belonging principles in practice based learning. By the end of 2021 most universities had use of the new form in their plans for the next academic year. 

Data and evidence

The CSP contracted three research projects in 2021, commissioning the North of England Commissioning Support Unit to carry out a review of physiotherapy workforce data; the University of Hertfordshire to carry out an education review (the KnowBest study); and Manchester Metropolitan University a practice based learning research project. 

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