Over 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the healthcare needs of the population into the future.
I am aware that some physiotherapy graduates have had difficulties in finding employment in the public health service. I want to ensure that the combination of factors which have led to this situation are addressed urgently. My Department is addressing this situation in a proactive manner and is working closely with the HSE to tackle the various factors which are contributing to this situation.
I understand that the HSE ran a national recruitment campaign in January for physiotherapy posts, panels were formed and a number of graduates were offered jobs. A working group made up of the Department, the HSE and the profession itself, including nominees from the unions, is continuing to work to see what can be done to tackle this situation in preparation for the 2007 graduates.
As part of their undergraduate training, I understand that physiotherapists undertake 1000 hours clinical training in various health settings. This clinical training ensures that they receive the practical training they require to be competent practitioners on graduation. Once in the workplace, physiotherapists can undertake, on a voluntary basis, continuing professional development to ensure that this competence is maintained.