New report highlights need for more physiotherapists

A recent report from the Nuffield Trust reveals that despite a significant rise in the total number of qualified physiotherapists in the UK over the past decade, the increase in NHS physiotherapist numbers has been merely 3.3%. 


CSP’s director of practice and development, Ash James, responded: “The CSP welcomes the Nuffield Health report on NHS workforce numbers. Whilst it’s positive that the report indicates a 31 per cent increase in physiotherapy staff between 2010 and 2023, this is only a third of the total growth in HCPC registered physiotherapists.


“This clearly shows there is further potential for the growth of physiotherapy as a vital part of the NHS workforce. The 3.3 per cent increase in roles for physiotherapists set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan for England is under ambitious.


“The broad range of skills physiotherapists possess make us well placed to manage the growing complexity we see in a patient population who are ageing and having increasing comorbidity. We can be a useful and viable solution to helping care for people across the UK.” 


Other key findings:


  • Funding for workforce growth: The report emphasises the need for increased funding to expand the NHS workforce, especially in line with the Long Term Workforce Plan. It also highlights the necessity for additional academic and clinical educators and supervisors. However, there’s a noted delay in implementing training places for doctors until 2025.

  • Vacancy rates vs. staffing shortfall: While vacancy rates are often used to measure staffing shortages, the report suggests that this approach may be limited. It advocates for a more accurate comparison between staffing numbers and population needs. The focus should be on delivering quality services according to patient requirements.

  • Retention challenges and burnout: Staff shortages contribute to burnout, poor retention, and difficulties in education and supervision. The report notes high turnover rates among physiotherapists, particularly within the first five years of their careers. This trend underscores the importance of addressing retention issues to ensure a sustainable workforce.


  • Discrimination impact: Discrimination against Black and ethnic minority staff within the NHS exacerbates retention challenges. These staff members are more likely to face workplace discrimination and less likely to advance to senior roles compared to their white counterparts. Addressing discrimination is crucial for improving retention and creating an inclusive work environment.


Here at Amaré Health, we have a wealth of physiotherapy opportunities and staffing solutions. Get in touch with the team on 0203 929 4017 to find out more about working with us.