Students - coronavirus FAQs

This collection of FAQs covers some of the key issues that have been raised to date by students on pre-registration physiotherapy degrees. They will be regularly updated as advice changes or new issues emerge.

These FAQs cover the following:


The HCPC Temporary Register (final year students)

What is the HCPC's temporary register and who is it for?

In March 2020, the HCPC launched a temporary register to enable final year students (who met the required competencies and completed sufficient clinical placements) and former registrants (who had de-registered in the past three years) to join the NHS workforce without having to go through the standard HCPC registration process.

Students who were approaching the end of their degree, who met the relevant standards of proficiency and programme learning outcomes, and gained sufficient clinical experience, were added to the register (at no cost).

The registers and more information are available at The HCPC has also provided FAQs for students.

If your name is on the temporary register, this does not mean that you have to work as a temporary registrant or that you will: it means that you are eligibleand could work if you choose to.

Update: Most NHS trusts and boards are no longer recruiting AHPs through accelerated recruitment routes. If you have graduated, you should apply to the standard HCPC register.  

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I haven’t completed 1000 hours of placement. Will I be added to the temporary register?

Update: Most NHS trusts and boards are no longer recruiting AHPs through accelerated recruitment routes. If you have graduated, you should apply to the standard HCPC register.  

The HCPC has allowed flexibility in how universities deliver your programme in order that you meet the standards of proficiency.

The CSP accredit all physiotherapy programmes and set a 1,000-hour requirement guideline for placement hours.

During these unprecedented times, the CSP is also allowing universities discretion and flexibility on this. Programme teams have been encouraged to consider different delivery and assessment methods to ensure that you meet your module and programme learning outcomes so that you can be confident that you have met the standards of proficiency. This will mean looking at your individual profiles, including your placement profile if you haven’t completed the 1000 hours. Teams will also look at your academic profile, which is just as important in helping them to make their assessment.

Ultimately the CSP, the HCPC and your university must be confident that both students and service users are not disadvantaged in the medium- to long-term by the changes made at this time.

If you are planning to register to work internationally and are required to have the full 1000 hours, please liaise with your university about completing the additional hours at a later date (even if after joining the temporary register).

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

What will happen if I haven’t undertaken one of my core placements (e.g. respiratory)?  

Neither the HCPC nor the CSP encourage universities or students to think in terms of ‘core’ placements.

While you may not have had experience in a placement setting, your university will understand this and will be taking it into consideration when assessing and interpreting your profile. We have asked programme teams to consider what support you will need in this current climate – especially around respiratory. As this support will be specific to your university, we recommend that you liaise with your placement co-ordinator if you want to discuss what this will entail.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I have my HCPC number. What do I do next to join the frontline?

Most NHS trusts and boards are no longer recruiting AHPs through accelerated recruitment routes. If you have graduated, you should apply to the standard HCPC register.  

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Will I be paid to work as an HCPC temporary registrant?

Where needed, we expect final year students on the temporary register to be employed on a fixed-term NHS contract and paid at the starting point of Agenda for Change Band 5, subject to discussions at the NHS Staff Council. See more at the NHS Employers website.

Your fixed-term contract of employment will cover all the working hour protections, pay arrangements and annual leave entitlement of the organisation into which you are deployed. National terms and conditions for NHS staff can be found at

Your working hours and pattern will be agreed between you and your employer and will consider working time regulations and expectations that enough rest time is provided. If you have assignments to complete, we recommend working part-time so that you can progress your studies simultaneously.

In terms of contract length, you are likely to be needed for a short time period (with most contracts fixed at 6 months). However, as the impact of the pandemic is unpredictable, extensions are possible. Of course, you are free to stop working at any point and we encourage you to take your annual leave.

If you hold a contract of employment with an NHS employer and are on payroll, then you will be automatically enrolled into the NHS Pension Scheme (and life assurance benefits) upon starting employment. The pension scheme is contributory, which means that all members and their employers pay into the scheme each month. It is also voluntary, and you can decide to opt-out at any time.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I am an MSc final year student. Will my name be added to the HCPC temporary register?

The HCPC COVID-19 temporary register is for students who have completed or are approaching the end of their degree. Your university’s course team will confirm if this applies to you. However, if your course started in January 2019, for example, it is unlikely that your name will be passed onto the HCPC at this time.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

How long will my temporary registration be valid for?

The HCPC will keep the temporary register for as long as the Government deems it necessary. When it is no longer needed, it will close.

You will not move automatically from the temporary to the permanent HCPC register. This will only happen after you have completed your academic studies and your marks have been ratified through your university’s assessment board. The Government is working with universities to facilitate it so that students do not suffer financially should you need this extra time.

Once you are awarded the full degree, your name will be forwarded to the HCPC for inclusion on the permanent register. Only then can you join the CSP as a qualified member (as opposed to a ‘temporary qualified’ member) and become a Chartered Physiotherapist. It is therefore vital that you continue to prioritise and complete your academic studies.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Will I need a DBS check?

Health Education England has confirmed that (within England), a new DBS will not normally be required if it has already been completed through your university as part of your education programme and is still valid. Should a DBS check be required, this can be acquired using the fast-tracked process run by the government.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

If I am deployed on the temporary register, what work am I expected to do?

In most cases, you will be practising as a newly qualified Band 5 physio (subject to agreement at the NHS Staff Council). According to Health Education England, duties may include (but not limited to) backfill for clinicians dealing with acute respiratory patients, discharge planning, community assessment and rehabilitation, helping with outpatient clinics (this could be via telephone), providing routine clinical cover and contributing to the clinical part of the NHS111 service.

To keep your service users safe, you will be expected to limit your practice to your current skills, knowledge and experience level. If you have not completed or had experience in some aspects of your training, please discuss this with your employer and your university, and decide together what roles you undertake and where you need to seek out additional support. Please be assured that there is no expectation that you will work outside of your skills or capabilities. Should you have concerns about this, members can contact the CSP.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Where will I work as a temporary registrant?

Ideally, you will be offered work where you have previously undertaken a clinical placement or worked. However, as many students have moved back to their family home, this may not be possible for everyone. Workforce needs will also impact on where posts become available. If you are asked to consider moving to a different area to cover local needs, this will be discussed with you beforehand.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Will I be covered by professional indemnity insurance?

NHS staff will be covered by existing indemnity arrangements during a pandemic. In NHS trusts, this is the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST). As temporary staff, you will also be covered, provided that you have a clear contractual relationship with your employer. Volunteers should have a volunteer agreement. NHS Resolution has made it clear that indemnity arrangements should not be a barrier to changed working arrangements.

CSP members are also covered by the CSP PLI scheme which provides medical malpractice and public liability insurance.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

What training will I be provided if deployed?

As per any normal  employment arrangements, you will be provided with training and support from employers prior to commencing your role. This will include an induction alongside statutory and mandatory training to enable you to practice safely. Where applicable, you will receive guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Your employer may also arrange for you to be supervised by another professional when you start.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

What would happen if a concern is raised about me while on COVID-19 deployment?

HCPC recognise there are increased risks involved and unique challenges for temporary registrants. As stated in Health Education England's guidance, concerns raised about a registrant on the COVID-19 temporary register will be handled by the HCPC in accordance with their relevant policy.

If a concern is raised, please contact your university (and the CSP, if you are a member) as soon as possible. In certain situations, a student may be removed from the temporary register. Should this happen, the student will still beeligible to apply for full HCPC registration on the completion of their studies. However, HCPC would keep a record of the complaint to inform any decisions made about admitting applicants to the standard register. This approach is the same as it would be for any pre-registration student.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I am a CSP student (or student associate) member. Do I need to change my membership if I am working as an HCPC temporary registrant?

Yes, once you have your HCPC temporary number, please upgrade to the CSP’s new ‘temporary qualified’ membership category. This will provide you with the support, guidance, insurance and resources needed at this time. It also offers all the benefits of qualified membership with the exception of chartered status. (You will receive this status upon graduation.)

There is no registration or joining fee for this membership category and, irrespective of whether you are upgrading or joining the CSP for the first time, you will receive three months of membership for free (saving you over £100). See the instructions for how to upgrade or join.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

If I join the HCPC temporary register, will I be eligible for Chartered Physiotherapist status?

Not yet. You will need to have completed any outstanding academic work, graduated and in receipt of a standard (non-temporary) HCPC number to be eligible for Chartered Physiotherapist status.

Once you are awarded your full degree, your name will be forwarded to the HCPC for inclusion on the permanent register. Only then can you join the CSP as a ‘qualified member’ (as opposed to a ‘temporary qualified’ member) and become a Chartered Physiotherapist.

The HCPC will keep the temporary register for as long as the Government deems it necessary. When it is no longer needed, it will close.

You will not move automatically from the temporary to the permanent HCPC register. This will only happen after you have completed your academic studies and your marks have been ratified through your university’s assessment board. The Government is working with universities to facilitate it so that students do not suffer financially should you need this extra time.

Once you are awarded the full degree, your name will be forwarded to the HCPC for inclusion on the permanent register. Only then can you join the CSP as a qualified member (as opposed to a ‘temporary qualified’ member) and become a Chartered Physiotherapist. It is therefore vital that you continue to prioritise and complete your academic studies.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Can I refer to myself as a physiotherapist while on the temporary register?

Yes. You can use the protected title of ‘physiotherapist’ for the duration of your time on the temporary register. Be open and honest with service users about your level of experience, qualifications and your registration status where necessary. You should not suggest to a service user that you have an ability to practise outside of your COVID-19 temporary role. Some employers may also set in local policies guiding how COVID-19 temporary registrants will be deployed and referred to.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)


First year students

What should I do as a first-year student?

Many first year students will begin their course using distance/online learning approaches, while clinical placement time will be postponed. Please be assured that the HCPC and the CSP are working closely with your university to reduce the impact of your programme’s temporary restructure.

 (Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)


Working in clinical settings with COVID-19 patients

What do I do if I have concerns about exposure to COVID-19?

Your health and safety is an absolute priority. If you have concerns about exposure, talk to your manager (or your supervisor if on placement) who will advise and support you in order to work in a safe environment. It is possible that you may not be asked to treat anyone with or suspected of having COVID-19. 

However, if you are, your employer (or placement provider) must carry out risk assessments in line with the COVID-19 guidance for infection prevention and control in healthcare settings (available online). They should put in place the necessary procedures, including identification of potential patients with COVID-19 symptoms, safe systems of work including isolation, staff training, monitoring protocol and sufficient supply of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers. You will also be instructed on how to look after your uniform and equipment and how to wear and remove your PPE safely.

More information on PPE is available from the Health and Safety Executive (the agency that enforces health and safety) and from the CSP - see our Clinical Practice FAQs.

If you suspect that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 (within or outside of your workplace), without the protection of PPE, contact your manager (or educator and link tutor if on placement) and your university, as soon as possible and follow the isolation procedures outlined by the government.

Also, if you or anyone you live with has any of the long-term health conditions that may put you at a greater risk from COVID-19, please speak to your university who will advise you about self-isolation measures.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

What do I do if appropriate PPE is not provided? 

Initially raise this immediately with your manager (or clinical supervisor if on placement). They may contact the infection control lead in the organisation for advice if you feel the PPE provided to you is inadequate.  If you cannot access your supervisor, contact their manager or a lead physiotherapy manager and raise this with them. 

If, after talking to managers and infection control, you remain concerned about the lack of personal equipment supply, fitting and infection control measures in place, you should talk to your university team (or manager, if working) in order that they raise it with the organisation on your behalf.  You can also seek advice from the workplace CSP safety rep. Check with other physiotherapists in your workplace to see if there is an accredited CSP safety rep you can talk to (or call the CSP enquires unit on 020 7306 666 and they can advise you on who this is). With their health and safety knowledge, safety reps are able to conduct inspections in the workplace and liaise directly with managers.  

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I suffer from a health condition. Should I join the workforce?

If you have a long-term health condition that puts you at a greater risk of complications from COVID-19 (or live with someone who is at risk), please speak to your university who will advise you about social distancing measures and avoiding non-essential travel. Ultimately, you will need to decide what is right for you and your personal circumstances.

For information about pregnant workers, view the CSP’s workplace and employment FAQs

If you do need to isolate, you can consider working or volunteering remotely. 

Please also note that opting in to work in clinical practice during the pandemic is entirely voluntary. If you choose not to do this, talk to your university about options for completing your course. Similarly, if you start practising but feel unable to continue, speak to your employer and university link who can support you. (If your details are added to the temporary register and you want them removed, please email e-regtemp@hcpc-org).

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)


I am a student joining the workforce. What can I do to prepare for this role?

Ensure you are as informed as possible about COVID-19. Take time to identify what additional knowledge, skills and training you may need for the clinical areas into which you may be deployed. Then begin some self-directed learning, starting with the following:

  • NHS England has provided resources to support staff education.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has produced a series of rapid guidelines and evidence reviews.
  • Health Education England has developed a programme of COVID-19 eLearning courses. Following registration to the portal these are free to access for all UK healthcare staff (and students using your email address).
  • The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care (ACPRC) has learning resources (include eLearning content) to support those working in respiratory physiotherapy with COVID-19 patients.
  • The CSP professional networks have numerous learning resources, many dedicated to upskilling staff as part of the COVID-19 response.

In addition to your learning, make sure your personal support networks are aware of how you will be required to work over the coming weeks and months. Be sure to put measures in place so you can access practical and emotional support if you need it.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)



I heard that students were paid for their time on placement. Is this still available?

Paid placements were introduced by the Department of Health and Social Care to provide healthcare students with additional employment rights and protection during the Spring and Summer of 2020. This arrangement was available for a limited period to students in England to support the NHS.

This arrangement has now come to an end and placements have reverted to non-paid.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

If I cannot or do not feel able to undertake placements at this time, what shall I do? 

If you do not feel able to undertake placements, please speak to your university to discuss the options available to you. This may involve continuing with the academic elements of your study through distance learning/online approaches or undertaking a remote placement from home. Universities are working on the principle of supporting all students so they are not disadvantaged in progressing whether or not they undertake paid placements.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Why has my university cancelled or postponed face-to-face placements?

Trusts and boards are adjusting to the pandemic impact in different ways due to multiple and changing factors. They are having to make decisions about the provision of placements based on workforce capacity, risk and the appropriateness of the settings. Because of this, many students have had their placements cancelled or postponed as staff were unable to provide the correct support. 

The CSP is working with universities and clinical practice to help placements restart in the safest way possible. This includes the provision of remote placements.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I am not in my final year, but I am concerned about not accruing all my placement hours.

Your course teams are already considering how to address a temporary shortfall of placement opportunities. This has involved, in the first instance, changing the order of programme delivery with a focus on lectures and written assignments over the spring and summer terms. While this action has the potential to place a burden later down the line on placement providers, your course teams will be working with local providers and neighbouring institutions to find solutions.

We advise that, regardless of the need to respond to the immediacy of this situation, your university must be able to assure the programme team, you as the student, employers and ultimately the service users, that anyone graduating meets the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Proficiency. In addition, they must be confident that you are not disadvantaged in the medium to long-term by any changes made at this time.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I plan to work as a physiotherapist in another country. Will I need to have at least 1000 hours of clinical placement to do this? 

A number of countries require you to have accrued a specific number of hours in particular clinical specialities during your pre-registration programme. If you are a final year student and plan to work outside of the UK, speak to your programme team about how you can accrue extra hours at a later date. (Read more about working abroad.)

The World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) is looking into the international recognition of clinical hours for students and graduates affected by the pandemic. We will share their response as soon as it is published.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I have returned to my family home (or home country). What are my options? 

If you have moved away from your university, discuss with your programme team whether it would be possible for you to work clinically where you are currently (or undertake a remote placement). You will be supported by your university to consider the options available to you including continuing with the academic elements of your study through distance learning/online approaches or an authorised break in your studies.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Learning online

Will I be disadvantaged by having my lectures online instead of face-to-face? 

A lot of your programme’s content can be delivered online as effectively as if you are sitting in the same room. Many universities use online teaching already and have the required facilities in place. If you and your lecturers are new to distance learning, please be patient and give time to your lecturers and peers to work out what works best. That way you will be able to learn how to get the most out of each session.

It is also important to stay in touch with your year group. Using video (such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Houseparty or Zoom) and chat apps (like Whatsapp) can be a very useful way to do this.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

What will happen if I am unable to complete my university-based practical assessments?

Where it is possible, your programme team will replace practical with alternative assessment formats to enable you to complete them at home. As every programme is structured differently, and module learning outcomes vary, these adaptations will vary across programmes, year groups and, in some cases, individuals. Please keep in touch with your lecturers about the changes made at your university.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I’m struggling to use online resources and access my virtual lectures. What do I do?

Let your programme team know if you are not able to access your resources online or if you are struggling to learn in this way. Your tutors and lecturers (and library staff) will be able to advise you on alternative methods or provide you with extra support. Speak to your university (and peers) if you are experiencing technical issues. Do not suffer in silence. If you are unable to engage with online work in the usual way and feel you have extenuating or mitigating circumstances (e.g. you don t have Wi-Fi in a rural location or you are caring for someone else), speak to your module or course leaders to ensure they are aware of your situation and that you can submit the relevant application for extensions and supply evidence in accordance with your university regulations.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I feel that other universities are dealing with the pandemic better than my institution. Is there a right and wrong way?

Each university is having to adapt how it delivers courses, and each institution is making slightly different decisions. This means that what your university is doing might be different to what’s happening at a neighbouring institution. This is a positive and necessary approach because each programme is structured differently. Here at the CSP, we are speaking to your lecturers to ensure they are making the right decisions for you as an individual, your year group as a whole and the frontline workforce. Your safety is your university’s number one priority.   

Please rest assured the temporary changes your tutors are making is in consultation with the CSP and do comply with our expectations of accredited programmes. Should you have any questions, please speak to your programme team so they can explain.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

, finances and communication

How do I stay up to date about COVID-19 developments and its impact on my degree?  

As the COVID-19 situation continues, we will be contacting your university with further advice and guidance. Your university will then contact you to let you know how this impacts you.

We also encourage students to have a read through the CSP’s COVID-19 FAQs and to follow @thecspstudents on Twitter  and  Instagram. We will contact you by email should any developments impact upon your membership (such as the temporary register).

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

Will I continue to receive my student finance payments?

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has confirmed that students will receive their next maintenance loan instalment at the planned start of the summer term regardless of changes to your teaching (or if you start earning as a support worker to gain clinical placement hours). Students will also be able to apply online for finance as normal. Visit the Government's SLC website for more information (they will provide further updates as necessary).

Additionally, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that all Learning Support Fund payments will continue to be paid. If you receive these, please continue to apply in the usual way.

You should not be required to pay for university accommodation after it has been closed or you have been advised to leave campus.

For more information, read our webpage on financial support for students. If you are concerned about finances, please contact your Student Union for advice and (if you are a CSP student member) seek assistance from the CSP Members Benevolent Fund.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)

I require childcare. Do I qualify as a key worker?

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed to the NHS Business Services Authority that students undertaking clinical healthcare courses are contributing to the national Covid-19 response and can self-identify as key workers. If your school or childcare provider requires evidence, this can be obtained from your university and/or NHS employer.

(Last reviewed : 15 Oct 2020)

As a student – how do I best take care of myself and manage my worries?

Please look out for your emotional wellbeing. Seek support from your university’s counselling service, from staff, peers, and family.

You can also find support online and by phone:

  • Mind has provided a toolkit to help you take care of your wellbeing while in self-isolation
  • International SOS offers a video on mental health resilience
  • Big White Wall is an anonymous community where members can support each other
  • Young Minds provides information and guidance on mental health
  • Samaritans are available 24/7 if you need to talk to someone (call 116123)

If you become unwell, please follow the isolation procedures outlined by the government and the NHS 111website and, if working, immediately inform your line manager and withdraw from work. (If you are employed within NHS, you will be entitled to sick pay.)

If you’re worried about how the pandemic will affect your course, please speak directly with your lecturers and tutors. They are co-ordinating local contingency plans which will support you to continue with your studies, this includes placements where possible. Your lecturers are taking advice from the CSP, the Council of Deans of Health (CoDH) and the HCPC. Please note that advice and approaches may well be different from year group to year group or even for individuals, depending on your personal circumstances. They are doing everything possible to support the continuation of your studies so you can graduate as close to when your programme is due to finish as is possible.

We are producing some student videos to help explain what’s going on in the background. Please look out for these on Twitter and Instagram (@thecspstudents).

Take care of yourself, and each other, in the coming weeks and months.

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)


If I am working, what can I do to look after myself?

Your employer has a moral and statutory duty of care to protect your health and safety, provide a safe environment to work in, and respond to concerns appropriately. You also have a responsibility to look out for your own wellbeing.

For example, Health Education England, advise employees to:

  • Take regular breaks to reduce the onset of fatigue and associated risks. (Your employer may need to consider additional arrangements if you are required to work longer shifts and/or additional hours.)
  • Know where to go to access local support (e.g. Occupational Health contacts, employee assistance provider (EAP) information, psychological support, counselling services, trade union representatives, etc).
  • Be supported by a clinical supervisor / educator or line manager.
  • Have an effective safety induction into new areas where you are being deployed to ensuring you are familiar with emergency and reporting procedures and any equipment you may be asked to use.
  • Be able to raise concerns, seek reassurance and explore and agree solutions with your line manager where required.

If you are a CSP member, you can also find support from your accredited CSP steward and/or safety rep. Check with other physiotherapists in your workplace to see if your workplace has steward and safety rep (or call CSP Enquires on 020 7306 666 and they can advise you on who this is).

(Last reviewed 15 Oct 2020)


Last reviewed: