TVNZ reported this week that the government is looking at cutting the number of people training to be physiotherapists.
The decision is likely because patient part-charges for ACC treatment introduced last year have led to a significant number of physiotherapists being made redundant. ACC says that there has been a 33 percent drop in people going to physiotherapists since the part-charges were introduced.
The ACC minister, Nick Smith, told TVNZ 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.”
Now there is concern at Otago University’s School of Physiotherapy about what the falls could mean for the 120 physiotherapy students it teaches each year. Prior to the ACC changes New Zealand had a physiotherapist shortage.
TEU national president Dr Tom Ryan warned that unthought-through interventions by the government in the industrial sector can have distorting effects on professional education and employment.
“Already we can see that recent changes in ACC are resulting in redundancies and emigration for physiotherapists; cutbacks in training intakes could well follow. Meanwhile, the proposed new law requiring a doctor’s note for anyone missing work for a day may have a very different impact, putting unnecessary pressure on general practitioners, and requiring more to be trained or imported from abroad”