New physios 'face unemployment'

13-07-2005

Freshly-qualified physiotherapists are facing unemployment after failing to find a job in the health service, researchers have found. A survey of students graduating from NHS-funded courses this year showed that three out of four did not have a job to go to this summer.

In Scotland, 202 students graduated, however, out of those who replied to the survey, 89% were without jobs.

The Scottish Executive said efforts were being made to provide more posts.

The aim was to encourage and support skilled graduates.

A spokesman argued that in the last two years it had taken until the autumn for new practitioners to find positions, as some of them choose to apply only after taking a summer break.

But he added that graduates may have to look for work further afield - in rural and remote areas.

Patients' groups, angry that 62 junior physios in Scotland are looking for work, insisted that more vacancies must be created.

Bosses blamed

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) argued that, as the government had paid for an increase in graduates, it was a "scandal" they could not find work.

Survey researchers pointed the finger of blame at local management, claiming the NHS, at grassroots level, had failed "spectacularly" in its responsibility to plan for graduates' arrival.

The team, which questioned 2,000 students across the UK, stressed that most said they had tried to find work in the NHS.

Stephen Bain, 22, graduated in Edinburgh after his four-year training course.

In the past five weeks he has applied to about 100 would-be employers, half of them in Scotland.

He said: "Three-quarters have replied to me and I have not even had an interview, so I think that kind of says it all.

"I have had no opportunity yet to even get a foot in the door to meet these people who I am trying to get employed by."

He continued: "We went to uni for four years to try to help people. If you're not being allowed to do that, it's a bit disappointing to say the least."

Boss of the CSP, Phil Gray, wants urgent action taken to tackle the problem.

He said: "They've been financed by the NHS, paid for by the government and the tax-payer and they are ready and willing to provide much-needed patient services.

"They are not getting the chance to do so because jobs have been frozen or simply not created in sufficient numbers. It's a major failure of planning."

Spokeswoman for the Scotland Patients' Association, Margaret Watt, said: "This is appalling. It's totally bizarre, owing to the fact that we have such a waiting list for patient treatment.

"Knee, hip, neck, arm problems - all these take a toll of people's quality of life. It beggars belief that any qualified person in this country is scrambling around looking for jobs."

Head of physiotherapy at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Karen Anderson, said: "Across Scotland, physiotherapy managers are looking at re-designing their services to encourage and broaden the scope for these young staff.

"It's a question of re-designing the traditional staffing mix to actually make the opportunities for them."

BBC News

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