Thousands of physiotherapists in England’s National Health Service (NHS) are the latest group to join the ongoing strike over pay in the NHS.

On Thursday, physiotherapists and people who help them at 30 NHS services, or one in seven, will walk out for 24 hours.

It’s the first time people in the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have gone on strike.

As with other striking health workers, physiotherapists, who the CSP calls “quiet miracle workers,” will take care of the most urgent cases.

This includes helping people who are in critical care, have serious breathing problems, or have had a stroke and need physiotherapy right away.

But rehab work, planning for discharge, and physiotherapy in the community are likely to be messed up.
Claire Sullivan, director of employment relations for the CSP, said, “The government needs to come to the table with something concrete that we can show to our members. If there is no progress, more strikes will happen.”

“We’re determined to get a pay deal that helps our members deal with the rising cost of living and helps the NHS hire and keep staff so that patients can get the services they need.”

Members of the Unite union who work in ambulances are also going on strike in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

It comes after ambulance workers, nurses, and other health workers in England and Wales went on strike over this year’s pay raise in the past few weeks.

Steve Barclay, who is in charge of health care, said it was “regrettable” that physiotherapists were joining other health workers in going on strike.

He said that he was now working with unions to make sure that next year’s pay raise was “fair and affordable.”

Why physios stand out
Like the strikes by the other health unions, this one is about pay. Physiotherapists in the NHS have the same contract as all other NHS staff, except for doctors and dentists.

It meant that NHS workers got an extra £1,400 this year, though some senior and specialist physios got more. It amounts to an average increase of 4.75 percent.

But all of the health unions have asked for a pay raise above inflation, saying that pay has gone down in real terms over the past ten years.

They say this is one reason why there aren’t enough people working in the NHS, where 1 in 10 jobs of all kinds are open.

But ministers have said that such increases would be too expensive and would make inflation worse.

In England, starting salaries for physiotherapists are just over $27,000, which is the same as starting salaries for nurses. The most experienced physiotherapists can make more than twice that much in the NHS, though many do both private and NHS work.

This is the first of three strikes that the CSP has planned. On February 7, physios and their support staff in all seven Welsh health boards and 33 NHS services in England will walk off the job.

The CSP is allowed to go on strike in more than 120 services in England, which is more than half of all services. This includes teams from the hospital, the community, and mental health.

Three-quarters of the 30,000 physiotherapists and support staff in the NHS in England are members of the union.

What physios do that no one sees
Physiotherapists and midwives are the third most common jobs after nurses and doctors. The CSP says that they are important for all parts of the health service.

“The people who work in physiotherapy are unsung heroes who do quiet miracles every day to help patients get their lives and abilities back,” Ms. Sullivan said.

Physiotherapists are often thought of as helping people with sports injuries and joint problems, but they are also an important part of many teams in hospitals and in the community.

They work in critical care, helping people who are having trouble breathing and building up their strength. During the worst of the pandemic, they were very important in taking care of Covid patients in intensive care.

They also help people with breathing problems, including disabled children, and help people who have had heart attacks or strokes get back on their feet.

Becky Portwood, a physiotherapist in London, said she and her colleagues were “proud” of the work they did during the pandemic.

“We were taking care of patients in intensive care. We are an important part of the working world. We work all over the NHS, including in A&E, so patients don’t have to stay in the hospital for too long.