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Unfilled maternity leave posts having 'devastating effect' on physiotherapy services

The majority of services are operating with 80 per cent or below average staffing levels when compared to the same period in 2007.

Image: physiotherapy image via Shutterstock

THE FAILURE TO fill vacant posts of those on maternity leave is having a “devastating effect” on physiotherapy services, one body has warned today.

A national survey by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) found that the majority of services are operating with 80 per cent or below average staffing levels – with some as low as 35 per cent – when compared to the same period in 2007. Almost 60 per cent of these vacancies are due to unfilled maternity leave.

Jill Long, President of the ISCP said: “In a profession that is predominantly young and female, the non-filling of these posts made vacant due to maternity leave is having a devastating effect on the services available to patients.”

Commenting on the survey, Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients Association said the reduction in staffing is “at odds with the government policy of patients being managed by the right person in the right place at the right time”.

“If patients cannot access physiotherapy services in primary care their condition can worsen and may necessitate expensive hospital admission thereby increasing costs to the Exchequer,” he said. “It is clearly more cost effective and clinically effective to intervene early in the community and prevent conditions becoming chronic or getting worse.”

Ruaidhri O’Connor, CEO of the ISCP also pointed out that the failure to fill these posts comes at a time when “a majority of physiotherapy graduates are being forced to emigrate” to gain employment as a physiotherapist.

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