Likely cuts to student physio numbers in NZ

The government is looking at cutting the number of people training to be physiotherapists.  The decision is likely because of an increase in the number of physios being laid off since the introduction of patient part-charges in November. Since then, physios say patient visits have fallen and many staff have lost their jobs. ACC confirmed there’s been a 33% drop in people going to the physio. The changes were put in place in an effort to cut ACC physio costs which had spiralled from $55 million to $144 million dollars per year.  Now there’s concern at Otago University’s School of Physiotherapy about what the falls could mean for the future.

The ACC Minister has revealed to ONE News that fewer jobs may mean fewer students.  “I think we need to re-jig the numbers we are training in physio to those that are long-term sustainable,” he said.  One hundred and twenty physiotherapy students graduate from Otago each year. Until the ACC changes, there were jobs for all. In fact, New Zealand had a physiotherapist shortage.  Job losses in the private sector means public hospital positions are now thin on the ground too.  Professor David Baxter from the Otago School of Physiotherapy said once people have jobs, they don’t want to move on which means there are less opportunities for graduates.  Many of last year’s Otago graduates went overseas for work which he said could be the start of a trend.