Protect public by protecting titles of physiotherapist and physical therapist in 1 Register.
In the rest of the world the titles of “physical therapist” and “physiotherapist” are protected in law and used only by members of the physiotherapy profession and mean the same. In Ireland, in the absence of regulation, the titles of “physiotherapist” and “physical therapist” can be used by any person. The public are confused when deciding who to seek treatment from, and where there is confusion there is a real risk to public safety.
The Physiotherapist Statutory Registration Board which includes a majority of lay people and is charged with protecting the public recommended to the Minister that both titles would be protected in the one register.
The Minister for Health is now considering this recommendation. If the title of physical therapist is not protected in one register with physiotherapy the confusion will remain and the public will not be protected.
Irish-educated physiotherapists (and those educated abroad with equivalent qualifications) are health professionals educated to provide health care in the core areas of musculoskeletal, cardio-respiratory and neurological.
People currently trained as “physical therapists” in Ireland are not educated to this level. Their training may include some techniques used by physiotherapists to treat musculoskeletal injuries but they do not receive any training in cardio-respiratory or neurology.
The “physical therapist” courses in Ireland are all part-time courses run at weekends for anything from 6 months to 15 months to 3 years. The highest qualification is a level 7 degree in Applied Health Science. It is not a degree in Physical Therapy; it is of a lower standard and has a different course content than Irish degrees in Physiotherapy, which are all level 8, four year full-time courses in Universities, with students receiving a minimum of 1,000 hours supervised clinical placement in public hospitals and primary care centres during the course.
The problem is that the public think the two professions are the same when clearly they are not (this is partially because they are the same in the rest of the world including Northern Ireland)
The only way to eliminate the confusion and maximise public protection is to protect both titles under one register for use by members of the physiotherapy profession
Physiotherapists are not trying to stop Physical therapists in Ireland from working, but that they work under a different title to eliminate the confusion and the risk to public safety
Further information to back up the above arguments are available from the ISCP – contact Ruaidhri O’Connor via firstname.lastname@example.org .
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