An urgent retention package with pay at its heart – actions required to protect the NHS physiotherapy workforce

The CSP has detailed how a meaningful pay rise is needed to avoid a physiotherapy staffing crisis becoming a permanent feature across the NHS. 

The physiotherapy leaver rates from the NHS increased throughout 2021, and now surpass both the average leaver rates for all allied health professions, and for nursing and midwifery staff. Urgent action is now needed to stem the tide of staff leaving the health service. It is not enough to take measures to recruit new staff, action must be taken to retain existing staff.

In its evidence to the independent Pay Review Body (PRB) – which will make recommendations about NHS pay rates in England – the CSP has joined with all the healthcare trade unions to call for a pay increase that recognises and rewards the skills and value of health workers.  

In order to do this, the 2022/23 pay award must:

  • deliver an inflation-busting increase so that NHS staff can cope with rising and rapidly fluctuating costs which may change significantly over the pay year
  • benchmark the bottom of the structure against the real living wage

In addition to a decent pay rise that supports both retention and recruitment, the healthcare trade unions have called for measures to address overwork and staff burnout.  Jill Taylor, chair of the CSP employment committee, said:

An urgent retention package is required now to protect the NHS’s physiotherapy workforce.  We need immediate action to prevent staff burnout. 

Ms Taylor continued: 'We need a meaningful pay rise that recognises and rewards the skills and value of health workers.  If this is delayed or denied, exhausted physiotherapy staff will vote with their feet.'

Time is now of the essence

The government was late in issuing a remit letter to the NHS Pay Review Body.  The PRB has been instructed to present its recommendations to government – which then makes the final decision on the annual NHS pay award – by May 2022 at the earliest.  This all-but guarantees that NHS workers will not get a pay rise on 1 April.

Now, the government appears comfortable breaking even the PRB’s delayed timetable, and is not expected to meet today’s 24 January deadline for evidence.  

With the looming cost of living crisis, the health trade unions have now called on government to speed up the process of determining NHS pay rates for 2022/23, including through direct negotiations.

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