The UK will need another 4,200 physiotherapists by 2020 if it is to keep track with rising demand, new workforce modelling shows.
The figures are based on the growing needs of an ageing population and rising numbers of people living with a long-term condition, along with the drive to provide more care out of hospitals and in the community.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which developed the modelling, says the profession will be central to delivering those new models of care but more training places need to be commissioned.
That extra investment will be paid back through services physiotherapists deliver, such as falls prevention classes and rehabilitation, which are proven to save money.
Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said:
“This is a challenge for the future that needs to be addressed now.
“Physiotherapists deliver exactly the kind of results the NHS is looking for, whether that’s keeping people well and in work, or supporting their independence, and do it in a cost-effective way.
“But the demand for those services is growing so it’s important that the workforce keeps pace.
“Our fear is that failing to do this will damage efforts to create a modern, patient-centred health service that is sustainable for the future.”
The modelling predicts 6,700 extra physiotherapists will be needed by 2025 and 9,100 by 2030 because of rising demand.
Demographic data cited in the modelling shows that by 2030, the number of older people with care needs is predicted to rise by 61 per cent and there will be 6.5 million more people in the UK.
There will also be significantly more people living with long-term conditions – for example, 17 million people will have arthritis - a rise from 8.5 million now.
Although commissioned student places have increased slightly for 2015/16, numbers are not ensuring that workforce supply is keeping pace with service demand and patient need.
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1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have more than 53,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.
2. The modelling can be viewed at www.csp.org.uk/workforcedata.
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