§ Mr. Alfred Morris
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many (a) physiotherapy, (b) occupational therapy and (c) clinical psychology posts are unfilled in (i) local and (ii) health authorities; what the cause is; and what short-term and long-term measures are being taken to remedy the shortage.
§ Mr. Whitney
Information on vacancies in local authorities is not collected centrally.
The results of a sample survey by health authorities last year suggested that nationally 4 per cent. of funded posts in physiotherapy and 15 per cent. in occupational therapy were unfilled after three months. Although we do not collect information centrally about vacancies, we have no indications of any general difficulty in recruiting clinical psychologists. Occasional problems in filling posts in some parts of the country and particular areas of service do however occur.
The shortfall in physiotherapy largely reflects the time normally taken to fill vacancies. The shortfall in occupational therapists is primarily due to an overall shortage of appropriately qualified staff, but other factors, such as geographical location, management arrangements and patterns of specialty also contribute to the problem.
In the short term we are considering with National Health Service management various ways of improving the supply of qualified occupational therapists and actively exploring longer term means of increasing numbers of students in training.