Brexit uncertainty and visa restrictions will pile more workforce pressure on the NHS and cause waiting times to lengthen, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is warning.
The CSP wrote to the Home Office in March to highlight the impact immigration policies and Brexit could have on physiotherapy, in both the NHS and independent sectors.
Recent work visa changes have increased the minimum salary needed for an overseas worker to remain working in the UK long term.
The salary level is now £35,000, more than most frontline physiotherapists can earn in the NHS.
A letter from the Home Office to the CSP refuses to address visa problems or to give any guarantees to European physiotherapists post-Brexit - 13% of HCPC registered physiotherapists are from overseas.
The CSP is working with other professional bodies, unions and employers organisations to lobby the Government as part of the Cavendish Coalition and works through the TUC to promote overseas employee rights.
Rob Yeldham, director of strategy, policy & engagement at Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said:
‘We are very disappointed with the Home Office’s refusal to ensure overseas physiotherapists can continue to work in the UK, given the immense pressure on the NHS.
‘The Home Office said they reviewed healthcare professionals when looking at the shortage occupation list and it did not include physios, but that was in 2015, before emerging evidence of the scale of the challenge and before Brexit.
‘However, our modelling shows that an extra 500 physiotherapists need to join the workforce each year just to keep track with demand.’
‘The reality is that many services are finding it difficult to recruit physiotherapists and if overseas physiotherapists are forced out then patients will face longer waits.
‘There does not appear to be any coherent strategy here and the Home Office should change its policy on visas and give assurances to healthcare professionals from Europe as a matter of urgency.’
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1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the UK’s professional, educational and trade union body. We have more than 56,000 members, including chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.
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