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As of 10 May, 1,290 physiotherapists have applied for registration but it is estimated there are over 4,000 physiotherapists working in Ireland.
CORU CEO Ms Ginny Hanrahan told the Medical Independent (MI): “My main concern is to get physiotherapists to apply to the register; there are serious consequences if they don’t. If you haven’t applied for registration as a physiotherapist, from 1 October your employer can send you home as you are not allowed to use the newly-protected title, which would be ‘physiotherapist’.
“So really, existing practitioners need to have applied, and while the process is going through, they continue to work as physiotherapists; that is not a problem. People who are working for the first time have to be on the register before they can start work, so this is a big change for this profession.”
She added: “The challenge we have is because we anticipate we are going to have over 3,000 coming in over the next five months, there is going to be major pressure to try and get them through the process. And really what we are trying to do is get people applying as early as possible.”
A two-year ‘grandparenting’ period opened in September 2016 for physiotherapists to apply to the register. However, the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP), which fully supports statutory registration, initially advised members not to register until there was complete assurance that the title of ‘physical therapist’ would be protected. This was guaranteed by a legislative amendment that commenced in December.
Mr Ruaidhrí O’Connor, CEO of the ISCP, told MI that since this legislative amendment was commenced, the Society has been “activity encouraging” members to apply as soon as possible through a variety of communication channels.
Physical therapists working in Ireland have a once-off opportunity to register with CORU either by a transitional route (closing on 20 December 2018) or standard route (closing on 31 December 2019).
Registration opened in December for this cohort and 75 physical therapists have applied out of the approximately 300 working in Ireland. Physical therapists who gain registration will be restricted to their scope of practice, which is treating musculoskeletal issues.