Government 'backsliding' on rehab space promises, says CSP

The CSP has accused the UK government of backsliding on its commitments around the restoration of rehab space lost during the pandemic.

The move comes as a new survey of nearly 500 members from more than 100 areas of the UK shows the huge impact this issue is having on them, their patients and rehabilitation services.

The last rehab space survey, which the CSP conducted at the end of 2022, resulted in a commitment in February from  Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lord Markham that the government would be writing to NHS bosses to urge them to restore rehabilitation space. But this commitment was watered down in subsequent comments from the red benches and has resulted instead in a short item included in an email bulletin issued by NHS England. 

The survey included responses from staff working across musculoskeletal, pelvic health, neurological, respiratory, cardiac, cancer, frailty, and paediatric departments within the NHS, and paints a powerful picture, with the overwhelming majority, 96%, of those who responded saying the situation around access to rehabilitation space has stayed the same or become worse in the last six months.

The survey also details the impact not having sufficient access to rehabilitation space is having on morale, with 85% of those responding saying it has been negatively affected. Increased stress was reported by 75% of respondents while 90% reported reduced job satisfaction. Furthermore, 60% of respondents say they have considered leaving the profession due to loss of space and the ability to carry out their work to the best of their abilities.

Results of the loss of rehab space survey

Click through the graphs below to see how loss of space impacted on those surveyed.

The CSP also expresses its thanks to those members who took part in the survey, from which the valuable insight is playing a vital role in holding the government and decision makers to account. 

Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said the dire situation required a stronger response. 

‘For decades now, rehab has been undervalued and overlooked and the pandemic has exacerbated that through the loss of the space physiotherapy staff need to deliver high quality care. 

It is every bit as vital as surgery and medication, but you wouldn’t ask a surgeon to operate without a theatre.

‘The government made a commitment in the House of Lords that it needs to stick by and ensure staff get the facilities they need to deliver high-quality care.’ 

Karen added 'This testimony is heart-breaking to read and a disaster in the making for the NHS if more staff leave and the situation worsens.' 

We must see immediate action to improve the working lives of our members and ensure patients receive the quality of care they deserve.

Despite the challenge that exists, there is action that members, with the support of the CSP, can take. Members are encouraged to contact their local CSP representatives, who will be able to advise on the best course of action to take in local services. There is also a suite of resources available to help physios know their rights and can effectively make their case on loss of space.


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