Funding threat to health placements

April 5, 1996

Final-year physiotherapy students may be unable to finish their courses this summer because funding has been withdrawn for their clinical placements.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists has written to health minister Gerald Malone to say that it is "deeply concerned about the impending crisis in clinical education for physiotherapy".

Universities have been paid a per capita fee by Regional Health Authorities to educate physiotherapists.

In addition, when students go on placements to hospitals, which take up a third of their courses, hospitals have invoiced the universities, which then claim the money back from RHAs.

But the Government announced last summer that payments for clinical placements should be phased out.

While most regions plan to stop paying by next April, North Thames stopped all payments this week.

Heather Coates, head of the division of physiotherapy at the University of Hertfordshire, has 37 final-year students due to start clinical training when the summer term begins at the end of this month.

She said that hospital physiotherapy units had been "very hostile" to the prospect of training without payment. "Thus far we have had threats of withdrawing placements," she said.

If they are withdrawn, she said: "We wouldn't be able to send students because of the money. They wouldn't be able to graduate."

Ms Coates said the universities would have to rely on persuading individual hospital trusts to take on students for free.

The Department of Health said: "The NHS Executive is committed to securing sufficient clinical experience and supervision for students in practice placements I It is NHS Executive policy that NHS bodies should not charge for clinical placements."

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