The CSP has pledged to campaign to secure more training places for physiotherapy students in England, as government plans to introduce tuition fees gather pace.
Under the proposals students will have access to student loans instead of NHS bursaries
At a meeting on 10 December CSP council members voted in favour of a policy that aims to ‘grow the physiotherapy profession’, even when NHS bursaries are no longer available.
The vote followed the government’s spending review in November, which included plans to introduce tuition fees for physiotherapy courses in England.
Under the proposals, from 1 August 2017 nursing, midwifery and allied health professions (AHP) students will not receive NHS bursaries. Instead, they will have access to student loans.
Council members agreed that the planned changes required a UK-wide strategy from the society, to safeguard
- entry to the profession by individuals from all parts of society
- high-quality education, including practice-based learning as a key learning experience
- an adequate supply of physiotherapists, who can deliver high-quality patient care and meet the rising demand for services
Increasing student places by 2020
Sally Gosling, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said the changes offered an opportunity to address the critical shortage of physio graduates.
‘The chancellor, George Osborne, has indicated that moving to this model of funding will enable 10,000 more nursing and AHP student places to be created by 2020,’ she said.
‘But we need to hold the government to account, make sure it achieves that target and ensure that physiotherapy receives a good portion of that increase.’
The CSP will be engaging with the government and raising concerns about the changes in briefings to MPs.
CSP to raise concerns
‘The key issues we hope to pursue are making sure that no one feels put off entering the profession for reasons of finance, that there is a genuine expansion of the workforce, widening participation and that the quality of physiotherapy education – including access to practice-based learning – isn’t compromised,’ said Ms Gosling.
‘We understand there will be some initial stakeholder engagement in the new year, with the government then launching a full public consultation, and we plan to be strongly involved at each stage.’
Although the proposed changes only apply to England, the society is also working with members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to review workforce issues in each country, Ms Gosling added.
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