Norwegian association resists plans to make manual therapy a separate profession

The Norwegian Physiotherapist Association is resisting government moves to classify manual/manipulative therapy as a separate profession. WCPT, its European region and its subgroup the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT) have joined with the association in officially objecting to the plan. 

Since October last year, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services has been considering classifying physiotherapists who have additional manual therapy qualifications as a new profession. This undermines the profession of physical therapy itself, WCPT has pointed out:

“Mobilisation/manipulation have been core entry level skills of physical therapists since the beginning of the profession and these entry level competencies are referenced in all relevant WCPT documents,” WCPT has said in a letter to the Norwegian health ministry. “Additional education/qualification is an extension to the entry level education, not preparation for a new profession.”

Marlene Haneborg of the Norwegian Physiotherapist Association says the plan has been extremely controversial. “We have consulted legal experts and had several meetings with politicians. The result of our lobbying has been that 39 consultative bodies, including doctors, nurses, patient organisations, hospitals, municipalities, universities and colleges have all been negative about the government proposal.” She said that her association is hopeful that the plan is about to be rejected.

Brenda Myers, WCPT’s Secretary General, says that WCPT fundamentally objects to such proposals. “The development of higher level skills beyond those at entry level, in areas of physical therapy practice such as manual therapy, acupuncture or respiratory practice, do not create a new profession but are advancements in professional knowledge and competency,” she says. 

“WCPT’s policy statement on specialisation makes it clear that specialisation in physical therapy is not to be considered as a limitation on practice, with the field of activity remaining open to all appropriately qualified physical therapists,” she says. “Formal recognition of physical therapists with additional qualifications and experience can increase benefits to the health and wellbeing of patients/clients, reduce health system costs, and encourage the retention and motivation of senior highly qualified members of the profession.”

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