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Physiotherapy: Waiting Lists

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to reduce waiting times for physiotherapy for elderly and vulnerable patients. (225482)

Information about waiting times for physiotherapy is not collected centrally. It is for primary care trusts in partnership with local stakeholders, including practice-based commissioners, local government and the public to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health and to commission services accordingly. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community including access to physiotherapy.

The national health service has seen historical levels of investment and a period of expansion in the work force to improve services and reduce waiting times since 1997. The number of physiotherapists employed in the NHS has increased by 41 per cent. since 1997, from 14,243 to 20,146 in 2007.

In the White Paper, “Our Health our care, our say” (CM 6737) (copies of which are available in the Library), we set out the future direction for health care, including access to physiotherapy. We have collaborated with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to pilot and evaluate self-referral to physiotherapy. The conclusions from these pilots will be included in a report to be published shortly.

Physiotherapy services are included in the 18-week patient pathway if their intervention forms part of a consultant-led pathway. The Allied Health Professions (AHP) Service Improvement Programme was undertaken to support AHP service improvement through information management. The outcomes of the programme are the Physiotherapy Pathway Improvement Tool and the Information Management Handbook for AHP Services. Both interactive documents build on good practice to provide guidance for benchmarking current practice, making improvements and monitoring progress. The tools are available on the 18 weeks website at:

The “NHS Next Stage Review: Our Vision for Primary and Community Care” outlined an intention to support the NHS and community clinicians in making radical change through the transforming community services programme (TCS). Copies of this publication are available in the Library. The clinical and service development workstream within TCS will focus on six clinical areas that will support the improvement of AHP services including physiotherapy for older and vulnerable people.