Press Release

Minister Martin launches report on future supply and demand for Physiotherapists, Occupational, and Speech and Language Therapists

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., today (25 July 2001) launched a Report on “Current and future supply and demand conditions in the labour market for certain professional therapists”. The study, a comprehensive workforce assessment of the requirement to 2015 for qualified personnel in the therapy healthcare sector, was commissioned by the Minister in response to severe labour shortages affecting the therapy professions at the present time.

The Minister commenting on the Report highlighted its role as an important milestone in the development of therapy professions within the Health Service. “Implementation of the recommendations contained in this Report will help maximise the valuable contribution that the therapy professions make to the quality of life of service recipients. The transformation in the supply of qualified therapists in these professions as recommended in this report by Dr Peter Bacon will provide the quality of Healthcare expected and deserved by all users of the Health Service.”

The report, prepared by Dr Peter Bacon and Associates, concludes that a major expansion is essential in the numbers of therapy professionals over the next fifteen years comprising:

  • a doubling in the number of physiotherapists;
  • an increase of over 150% in occupational therapists; and
  • a fourfold increase in speech and language therapists.

This will require a significant increase in training places with a recommended annual increase of 75 course places for both speech and language therapy and occupational therapy and 25 course places for physiotherapy. Other key recommendations of the report relate to:

  • provision of sufficient clinical placements within the Health Service through the establishment of a national network of Clinical Placement Co-ordinators;
  • need for fast-track qualification and review of the existing training system;
  • concerted recruitment from overseas;
  • establishment of the planned system of statutory registration system consistent with the requirement for a patient-centred Health Service;
  • career structure, workload, working practices and skills-mix issues encompassed in the context of the Report of the Expert Group on Various Health Professions (published April 2000);
  • estimation and projection of Healthcare demand as a basis for human resource planning in the Health Service.

An Inter Agency Group, comprising representative of the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority has been created to ensure the rapid provision of the additional places as an urgent priority.

Minister´s Speech at the launch of the Report from Peter Bacon and Associates