Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 12:54 UK

Physio training applications down

Physiotherapist
Some physiotherapy graduates have struggled to find a job

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of people applying for university physiotherapist courses, figures show.

It follows previous reports that physiotherapy graduates are struggling to find jobs due to NHS cuts.

Charities such as the MS Society have now started to co-fund physiotherapist posts with the NHS to meet demand.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said a fifth of graduates were still looking for a job.

But this had fallen from 49% in November 2007.

I blame it on the fact that there has been a lot of press coverage of the problems physiotherapy graduates were having getting jobs and this is deterring people from applying for training places
Vanda Fee, University of West England

The University of the West of England said applications for physiotherapist courses due to start in September had fallen by 43% with six position still not filled.

Other universities they had contacted had also suffered similar problems with applicants estimated to be down by around 30-40%.

UCAS, the UK's university admissions service, said 19 of 33 physiotherapist training universities still have vacancies.

Vanda Fenn, admissions co-ordinator for the University of the West of England said physiotherapy had traditionally been a very competitive course.

She the BBC's You and Yours programme that some reduction had been expected due to health authorities reductions in the number of places they commission and a change in the UCAS application system.

"Even taking all of that into account there is a shortfall.

"I blame it on the fact that there has been a lot of press coverage of the problems physiotherapy graduates were having getting jobs and this is deterring people from applying for training places."

She added the shortage of jobs was likely to be temporary.

Job security

Samantha Haw who finished her training last July had to wait for almost a year for her first job as a locum

"It's frightening. I work full time but I have no job security.

"I don't think it's getting much easier to find work."

Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said patient demand for physiotherapy is growing, with one in ten people admitted to hospital needing physiotherapy treatment.

"Historically, physiotherapy places have been hugely oversubscribed, but we are beginning to see a reduction in applications this year.

"We believe this reduction is a temporary one.

"Our latest survey suggests an improvement in graduate employment, but we will have to see if this trend continues for the rest of this year."

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said they had decided to find physiotherapy posts at a cost of 40,000 each due to the shortage.

"We are aiming to fund 100 in the coming years.

"We are working with other charities who are part of the Neurological Alliance of charities for example the Parkinson's Society, over this issue.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the NHS employs 20,146 physiotherapists.

"The NHS in England has seen record levels of investment. The number of physiotherapists has increased by 41% since September 1997.

"It is for Primary Care Trusts to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities."




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