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Number of Physiotherapists from UK & overseas - September 2016

Thank you for your email of 2 September 2016, in which in ask for statistics on registered physiotherapists.

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Please find attached the data for question 1, which shows a breakdown by nationality and the route to registration over the period 2003 to 2013.

By way of background, the term ‘grandparenting’ which is used in the attached document is what happens when a title is protected for the first time. People who are already working in that field have a right to continue to use the title and so we have a period of what is known as grandparenting. 

Essentially this means that individuals have a right to come onto the register if they have been using that title under certain conditions. The conditions, which are set in Parliament, are that the individual has to demonstrate that they had been using the title lawfully, safely and effectively for three out of the previous five years. So if an individual could demonstrate to us that they had been doing that, they didn’t need a qualification to get onto the register.

When these individuals applied they had to demonstrate that they had been using the title, and that they had been practising lawfully, safely and effectively. Where there was any concern that this hadn’t taken place, applications were sent to two members of the profession, normally people quite senior in terms of experience and academic background, and they made a professional judgment as to whether those individuals should be registered.

The other important element of the grandparenting process is scope of practice. If someone had been practising using a title but the scope of their practice was so limited that they couldn’t really be considered as being, a physiotherapist, their application would be rejected. At the same time all professionals are required to work within their scope of practice and so people who were admitted to the register through grandparenting could not start undertaking new procedures without undergoing the relevant training.

In 2003, lots of people had the chance to get on the HPC physiotherapist register through the Grandparenting route. It can take several years for them all to apply and get through the assessment process. When the deadline for grandparenting applications has passed, that is it. The only way you can now get onto the register is by undertaking the relevant qualification or training.

In relation to your second question concerning our guidance for applicants who trained outside of the UK who wish to apply for registration, we publish a wealth of information on our website. More information can be sought from our International team at and 020 7582 5460. They will be able to assist you with the process for making an international application for registration. What they will not be able to assist you with are any questions in relation to how easy it is for physiotherapists who have qualified overseas to work in the UK. This is because the HCPC does not require registrants to inform us of how/where they are employed.