Physios call for end to recruitment freeze
The HSE is being called on to immediately reverse its recruitment freeze, so that more physiotherapists can be hired to deal with the high number of people injured in the recent bad weather.
According to Spencer Turvey of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP), one of the major fallouts from the severe weather is the number of people who have fallen and suffered a broken limb.
“Numerous reports of increased waiting times in our A&E Departments, mainly filled with people who have slipped on the ice, highlight the increase in those who will need physiotherapy to enable them to regain full mobility. Early access to physiotherapy accelerates restoration of function, aids return to work and helps to prevent long term complications and disability,” Mr Turvey explained.
He said that people of all ages had been injured in the bad weather, ‘resulting in increased sickness, absence and serious disruption to people’s independence’.
“Support from physiotherapists helps patients to overcome the loss of confidence following a fall. This support has been severely curtailed due to the HSE recruitment embargo, with reduced physiotherapy staff levels struggling to meet the significant increase in demand.”
According to the ISCP, 38% of 2009 physiotherapy graduates are unemployed and a further 20% have emigrated to find employment.
“Recently published waiting time statistics indicate the waiting time for physiotherapy in most hospitals exceeded two months at best, with many having to wait over six months for a routine outpatient physiotherapy appointment. With the large numbers of people who fell during recent weeks, sustaining injuries such as bone fractures and sprains, which all require physiotherapy, waiting times are set to increase dramatically,” Mr Turvey warned.
He pointed to the adverse implications for the wider society, arising from increased sickness benefit costs and decreased productivity due to injured workers.
“Many vulnerable elderly citizens who sustained hip fractures during the ice and snow may require long term care if not mobilised early. Significant costs to the State can be avoided by the timely provision of rehabilitation from physiotherapists proficient in restoring function and minimising disability. Reducing services in physiotherapy and rehabilitation is a false economy,” he insisted.
The ISCP is urging the HSE to increase recruitment of frontline chartered physiotherapists as a cost saving measure, as such a move ‘will reduce the costs of long term disability for the Irish taxpayer’.
[Posted: Wed 20/01/2010]