Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
265. Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the majority of physiotherapy graduates from UCD in 2006 have been unable to find work in the health services here; if she will engage with the Health Service Executive to ensure that the needs of the public and the availability of qualified professionals are matched through the creation of posts in physiotherapy in the health services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38933/06]
311. Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention is drawn to the fact that the majority of graduates in physiotherapy from UCD in 2006 have been unable to find posts in the health services here; if her Department has plans to provide funding to the Health Service Executive to sanction additional posts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38940/06]
I was recently made aware that an issue has arisen around the availability of employment opportunities for recently qualified physiotherapists and I have asked the HSE to give the matter its urgent attention. It is a matter for the Health Service Executive, as part of the management of its employment ceiling, to determine the appropriate staffing mix required to deliver its service plan priorities.
It is important to note that there is not an over supply of physiotherapists in Ireland. The Bacon Report, Current and Future Supply and Demand Conditions in the Labour Market for Certain Professional Therapists, March 2001 recommended an increase in physiotherapy training places, following which additional training places were provided. There continues to be a growing demand for physiotherapy services and this is likely to continue as was highlighted in the Healthcare Skills Monitoring Report (FÁS, August 2005) and as evidenced by the number of development posts planned for the physiotherapy profession in the coming years.
At present, there is a significant demand for Senior Physiotherapists but, at the present time, less opportunities for newly qualified graduates. I am advised that the HSE has recently advertised 81 Primary Care physiotherapy posts and there will be a further 62 development posts in physiotherapy, in areas such as services for persons with disability and older person’s services. The majority of these posts, which should be filled in the coming months, are at senior level, but their filling should provide employment opportunities for recent graduates through backfill. As the development posts are taken up by seniors, or more qualified basic grades currently in the system, a gap will be left for the recent physiotherapy graduates.
My Department and the HSE have identified this issue as a priority and are taking steps, in consultation with relevant stakeholders to find a satisfactory and sustainable outcome in the interest of the patient, the public, physiotherapists seeking employment and the HSE itself.
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