CSP welcomes new AHP workforce plans for England

NHS provider organisations in England are being offered support to develop 18-month AHP strategic workforce plans by April 2022, which the CSP believes could help ‘tackle physio workforce challenges’.

AHP meeting

The new strategic workforce plans, which have been requested by Health Education England (HEE), will need to:

  • detail how NHS Trusts will ensure there are sufficient band 5 roles available for the graduates in their region
  • address placement shortfalls and put in place a standardised early careers programme for all new graduates.
  • include a commitment to meet AHP return to practice targets (including of international qualified registrants) – with a minimum of three return to practice AHPs per trust
  • support the National AHP Support Worker Optimisation Programme, which is led by CSP member Naomi McVey
  • support the development of ICS and regional apprenticeship expansion plans, to support AHP workforce growth and widening access routes into pre-registration training

Commenting on the requirement for new AHP workforce plans in England, Gill Rawlinson, CSP assistant director of practice and development, said: ‘This development is hugely significant and long overdue.

'Not only will it determine the size and shape of the AHP workforce at Trust level, the intention is that they will be aggregated into ICS/People Board level AHP plans and a national AHP workforce plan.

'It is therefore critical that full account is taken of the workforce requirements of all sectors, not only of NHS Trusts.' 

It is a real opportunity to tackle the physio workforce challenges in England

HEE has made funding available, to support the development of the plans, which in many areas is being used appoint band 8 AHP secondments to lead the work.

An opportunity to address the physio workforce challenge


Since the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan the CSP has been lobbying for physio staffing targets to be increased - to make efficient use of the healthy growth in numbers of new physio graduates - and for support worker numbers to also be expanded, in order to deliver on the commitments in the plan.

These commitments include the roll-out of FCPs roles in primary care, improved access to rehab for a number of pathways, as well as implementation of anticipatory care, urgent community response and discharge to assess policies.

‘These policies cannot be delivered without the physiotherapy workforce,’ said Rachel Newton, CSP’s head of policy.

‘But even before the pandemic physiotherapy and rehab services were over stretched and understaffed – particularly in the community – and this has been significantly exacerbated by Covid.

As well as insufficient staffing, the shortage of band 5 roles appears to be having the knock on effect of creating problems recruiting to band 6-8 roles – with a shortage of staff to be developed into these roles

The CSP has been actively championing the value of Support Workers and has lobbied for increased and consistent access of AHP support workers to training, education and career opportunities.

The CSP has also been working towards the development of a career structure for the whole registered and non-registered physio workforce.

‘A clear career structure needs to make the community sector a career of choice with opportunities to develop,’ Ms Newton added.

‘It also needs to provide a pipeline for roles requiring advanced practice skills, such as MSK first contact physiotherapists in primary care and advanced clinical practitioners for long-term conditions, community neuro and pelvic health specialists.’

Get involved and seek CSP support


CSP is encouraging members to get involved and provide input into the new plans if they have the opportunity to do so.

  • For managers and leaders - if you are leading AHP workforce planning contact the CSP so we can share what you are doing with others and learn how the CSP can best support the process
  • For all members in the NHS - use all opportunities you have to help shape the development of the AHP workforce plans in your area – through your Trust, AHP Council, AHP Faculty
  • For all students and trainees on placement - take part in the National Education and Training Survey by 30 November

Please contact cre@csp.org.uk to be put in touch with your regional CSP team.

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