Physiotherapists, physiotherapy support workers and other health professions must be included in the government’s new automatic visa extension scheme, the CSP says.
The government recently launched an automatic visa extension scheme for overseas nurses, doctors, and paramedics who are currently working in the UK.
The scheme provides overseas NHS staff, and their families, with an automatic one-year visa extension. But it does not currently include physiotherapy staff.
The CSP is calling on government to extend the scheme to NHS physiotherapists, as well as other allied health professionals (AHPs), and their families.
This will protect staffing levels across health and social care, and allow physiotherapy staff and other AHPs to focus on patient care during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.
Rob Yeldham, CSP director of strategy, said:'Physiotherapy staff are playing a crucial part in the UK's response to Covid-19, helping patients leave hospital and ensuring those with other conditions, such as stroke, can continue their recovery at home.
'Their services are set to face unprecedented increases in demand caused by the crisis in the coming months and years and their success in meeting that need will be crucial for the whole system.
'In order to do that, we need to retain every overseas physio and physio support worker currently working in the UK.
'The CSP is therefore urgently calling on the UK government to extend the scheme to include all overseas physiotherapists and rehab support workers regardless of their employer and help us ensure patients receive the rehab they need.'
He added that the NHS has subcontracted physiotherapy in some areas to social enterprises or private providers.
‘So it's important that overseas physios working for hospices and other charitable providers are not left behind.’
The one-year visa extension scheme currently applies to nurses, doctors and paramedics who are employed by the NHS on a Tier 2 (‘general’) visa that was previously due to expire before October 2020.
Physio staff are crucial to Covid-19 treatment and care
There are an estimated 3,000 physiotherapists working in the UK who qualified overseas, though not all will be affected by this visa issue.
Physiotherapists and physiotherapy support workers are essential throughout the care of those patients worst affected by Covid-19 from intensive care through to community rehabilitation after discharge.
- Specialist respiratory and intensive care physios are saving the lives of Covid-19 patients by helping them to breath
- Physiotherapists and physio support workers are helping patient recovering from Covid-19 rehabilitate so they can return home and rebuild their lives
- Physiotherapists and physio support workers have been critical in enabling non-Covid-19 patients rehab and leave hospital to free up capacity for Covid-19 positive patients
- Retired physios and physio students have been mobilised to provide a range of care services during the pandemic
- Physiotherapy is also a necessary part of looking after the health and wellbeing of healthcare workers, unpaid workers and volunteers, and other key workers so that they are fit enough to work and care.
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