Profiling the general medicine physiotherapy service delivery models across major acute metropolitan hospitals within Australia

Ms Hannah Davies1, Ms Catherine  Granger1

1The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Macleod, Victoria, Australia



Physiotherapy is vital in the management of General Medical patients; however it is often felt physiotherapy services are understaffed resulting in busy caseloads, potential for inadequate delivery of physiotherapy, staff fatigue and burn out. This study aimed to investigate 1) physiotherapy service delivery for General Medical patients in Australian hospitals and 2) staff satisfaction in this area.



Australian metropolitan hospitals with a General Medical Unit were eligible. Physiotherapy managers were approached and those interested completed a 40-item online survey.



45/54 hospitals were able to be contacted and 32 responded (71% response rate). The mean (SD) number of funded beds allocated to General Medical patients was 90±53.7, however respondents reported numbers frequently flexed up despite nil additional physiotherapy funding. Physiotherapy staffing was perceived to be ‘inadequate’ or ‘very inadequate’ by 38% of responders. 69% reported they did not have a recommended clinical care ratio for staff and only 34% had a weekend General Medical Physiotherapy Service. Skills most frequently performed were gait assessment/retraining, discharge planning and respiratory assessment, with only 15% providing group therapy. 80% of respondents reported being ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their job, despite 62% reporting they receive negative feedback with regard to their staffing levels and capacity to service patients.



This project has established the profile of Physiotherapy service delivery models across major metropolitan hospitals within Australia. Physiotherapists in this area experience job satisfaction despite evidence of challenges including inadequate staffing and equipment. Further work needs to be completed to determine the optimal service delivery model.