Mr. Gareth R. Thomas
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to improve physiotherapy services(a) in London and (b) in general. 
§ Mr. Hutton
The NHS Plan sets out targets to provide 6,500 more therapists and other health professionals and 4,450 more therapists and other key health professional training places by 2004. Further plans to increase the number of physiotherapists working in the NHS by 59 per cent., from 15,600 in 2000 to 24,800 in 2009, were announced in the follow-up document to the NHS Plan,Investment and reform for NHS staff—taking forward the NHS Plan, (published 15 February 2001).
Between 1999 and 2001 the number of qualified physiotherapists in England increased by 1,140 (from 15,070 in 1999 to 16,210 in 2001). Of these the number working in the London regional office area increased by 90.
Between 1999–2000 and 2000–01 the number of physiotherapy training commissions increased by 127 (9 per cent.) and further increases are planned.
In September 2001, as signalled in Meeting the Challenge: A Strategy for the Allied Health Professions (AHPs), 10 Workforce Development Confederations (WDC's) began working with 13 Higher Education Institutions in a first wave of modernising pre-registration education and training for the allied health professions, starting with Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Radiography, Podiatry and Speech & Language Therapy education. These first wave courses will be established from the 2002–03 academic year and will feature wider entry gates to professional training, more part-time courses, the possibility of stepping on and off programmes, and more opportunities for shared learning. Several HEIs in England offer accelerated pre-registration courses in physiotherapy for existing graduates.
Individual health authorities are also responsible for assessing the broad health care needs of their population, and securing a range of hospital and community health services such as physiotherapy services to meet those needs. Decisions about the health care provision and the use of resources are best taken at local level because it is there that people's needs are best known and services can be tailored accordingly.