Tackle service pressures by expanding the physio workforce, CSP tells government

Physiotherapy staffing numbers need to be increased, to help relieve pressure on the NHS and to meet the commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan.


This is one of the key messages CSP has made in a series of recommendations to the government about how to improve the recruitment, training and retention of registered physios and physio support workers.

The recommendations were made as part of a CSP submission to a Health and Social Care Select Committee Inquiry into the recruitment, training and retention of health and social care staff.

They include a call for an expansion in Band 5 posts, which could be enabled by new physio registrants being offered five year NHS contracts.

In its evidence the CSP also calls for the retention of NHS physio staff to be improved by fully utilising their potential and providing ongoing opportunities for their continuous development.

Rachel Newton, CSP head of policy, said:

NHS England should be capitalising on the growth of physiotherapy graduate numbers and the potential to expand support worker numbers, and be creating a career pathway for registered and non-registered workers

‘Investing in the development of physios and physio support workers is essential to delivering the commitments that NHS England made to the public in the Long Term Plan. But it is also a key factor in improving staff retention, a growing problem in physiotherapy now on a par with nursing.

'The biggest movement of physiotherapists out of the NHS happens in the early stages of people’s careers. This speaks volumes about limited progression opportunities, particularly for those wanting to work in the community, which is where the system most desperately needs more experienced physiotherapy staff. .

‘Tackling this and many other issues that drive problems with physiotherapy staff retention such as pay, different forms of discrimination,  work overload and staff burnout will help to deal with staff shortages, support wellbeing  and deliver equal treatment at work for staff.

Set minimum targets for the AHP workforce


The Society’s submission to the inquiry also highlights that, while national workforce targets exist for nurses and doctors, no such targets have yet been set for growing the AHP workforce, other than in primary care through the additional roles scheme.

The only workforce target for physiotherapy is for the 5000 additional MSK physiotherapists to work in primary care in FCP roles by 2023 and this is being undermined by insufficient  overall physio staffing numbers and the lack of a development pipeline. 

As a result, the CSP has recommended the setting of targets for a minimum Allied Health Professions (AHP) workforce for the next iteration of the People Plan, for both the registered and non-registered workforce.

Other key recommendations from the CSP called for:

  • Build on the local AHP workforce plans currently in development to ensure this happens every year and directly fed into workforce planning, with representation for AHPs at Board level to ensure this happens
  • Speeding up the time between being newly qualified and being ready to transition into advanced clinical practice and First Contact Physio roles by investing in the continuous professional development of the workforce
  • The full CSP submission to the inquiry is available here

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