APA responds to investment in new medical school at Curtin University in WA

27 May 2015

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has responded to the Federal Government’s decision to invest in a new medical school at Curtin University in WA, which would see an increase of 60 initial student placements to more than 500 publicly funded places by 2026.

The APA welcomes investment in health, but believes funding must be targeted. Supporting the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) stance that an increase in student placements would create a shortage of training places for interns and specialists, the APA says an increase in student placements would worsen the shortage of clinical placements that enable physiotherapists to complete training and build the future workforce.

APA Chief Executive Officer Cris Massis says: “The APA welcomes investment in the health sector. However, with the increasing demand for physiotherapy as a result of the ageing population, funding must be targeted towards new models of care and a broader range of services, not just education.”

The Health Workforce Report highlights the decreased availability and reduced quality of clinical placements for physiotherapists as a main area of concern, which results from an increase in student numbers and is linked to difficulties in retaining senior staff, particularly to specialist positions. This in turn limits the workforce’s capacity to provide clinical supervision for students and graduates.

“While investment towards education is important, the government must in turn support career advancement for these students as well as investment in new models of care, including a broader range of services and widening the scope of the work physiotherapists do,” says Massis.

Part of this advanced scope involves the ability for physiotherapists to prescribe medication to patients and referrals to see medical specialists.

“The APA has been developing a submission to the Physiotherapy Board of Australia to endorse the registration of appropriately credentialed physiotherapists to prescribe medications within their scope of practice as well as refer patients to medical specialists through funding of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)”, says Massis.

“Expanding the scope of practice for physiotherapists will significantly improve patient care, benefit the economy and healthcare system, while also improving career pathways for our profession.”

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 17,000 members who conduct more than 21 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact:

Ruth Heenan, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0813, 0416 565 332 E Ruth.Heenan@physiotherapy.asn.au
Pammy Kokoras, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1317 or 0421 105 710 E Pammy@undertowmedia.com
Rachael Horan, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1318 or 0426 631 316 E rachael@undertowmedia.com