Working as a physiotherapist in the UK

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The Australian physiotherapist community in the UK is huge! You’ll usually find at least one Aussie physiotherapist in every NHS service, especially in London. So what do you need to do to get a job here (other than sorting out your visa of course)?

1. Register for the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC)

This is equivalent to the AHPRA registration in Australia and needs to be done at least 6 months before you arrive in the UK. You will need to fill in a lengthy application form which requires several supporting documents. The most difficult one to get is your entire academic transcript which you will have to contact your university and pay for (I was charged over $100 for this). Once you have completed it, you will have to post it to the UK and once it has been approved you will have to pay the fee.

Click here for further details

2. Sign up to a recruitment agency

If you are planning to work as a locum (contract) physiotherapist, it is worthwhile you signing up to at least 2-3 agencies as each agency as ties with difference NHS services. Here are the ones I would recommend but there are plenty more out there:

PSL Recruitment Agency

JustPhysio

Sugarman

Pulse Jobs

It is worthwhile contacting these agencies before you arrive in the UK as they will let you know which documents they require for you to work with them eg. Proof of vaccinations

3. Purchase your uniform

The standard NHS uniform is a white polo, navy trousers and black shoes (sneakers allowed). Suprisingly it’s actually difficult to find Women’s navy trousers in the UK so it might be worthwhile bringing over a few pairs from home

4. Set up an Umbrella Company

Find yourself an accountant (or your recruitment agency can recommend one) who can set up an Umbrella Company. This has been a new change since 2017 and unfortunately as I went through a Limited Company I don’t have all the facts on how to do this, so best speak to an accountant or your recruiter about this.

5. Time sheets & Invoices

At the end of each week you must fill in your timesheet, have it signed by your manager and fax/email it through to your recruitment agency

You will then have to create an invoice (which your accountant can give you a template from) which you will email to the agency so that they are able to pay the correct amount into the correct account

Things to keep in mind:

– the NHS workers are classified under Bands rather than Grades:

  • Band 5 = Grade 1
  • Band 6 = Grade 2
  • Band 7 = Grade 3

– if you want to work in MSK, you’re much more likely to get a job having public outpatients experience rather than private, they also prefer you have around 3-4years experience as the majority of locum MSK jobs are Band 6 (equivalent to Grade 2)

– pay rates for a Band 6 starts at about £25 per hour (as of early 2017, the pay rates have decreased to as low as £20 per hour)

– jobs can vary in length from a few weeks to a few months and can often be extended

– there is a HUGE emphasis on cardio/pulmonary physiotherapy in the acute setting, so if you’re planning to work inpatients make sure you brush up on your knowledge

– every NHS service has a different IT system so be prepared!

– the NHS is very slowly becoming a paperless service, so whilst some have converted to electronic notes, many are still relying on hand-written documentation

– keep up your AHPRA registration by paying for a ‘non-practicing’ registration – this offers a discount on a ‘practicing’ registration. Technically you don’t have to keep up any registration at all, but once you return back to Australia, you have to re-register for AHPRA from scratch with all your original documentation

And most importantly, just remember that ‘pants’ means ‘underwear’ in the UK so be sure to ask your patients to take off their trousers.

In April 2016 the NHS placed a cap on the number of locums that each trust is allowed to hire. This has resulted in a SIGNIFICANT reduction of jobs available. So to make it easier for yourself, don’t be picky with your first job. Just try to get your foot in the door, especially at a NHS service.

Good luck and feel free at ask any questions!

2 thoughts on “Working as a physiotherapist in the UK

  1. Hi ! Just wanted to thank you as all this information is incredibly helpful- it’s a bit overwhelming trying to work out everything that you need to know and organise before a working holiday so this is really valuable information and you’ve explained it really well. Cheers!

    Like

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