If you live in the UK and want to see a physio there are two main treatment routes:
It is sometimes possible to access physiotherapy treatment through other routes, such as an employer or charities.
Choosing a physio
When choosing a physiotherapist, make sure they are chartered (they will have MCSP after their name) and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
In many cases your doctor (GP or hospital consultant) will help you to access physiotherapy but increasingly in some areas you can self-refer (see below.)
If you need physiotherapy while you are in hospital the physiotherapist will come and see you on the ward. For physiotherapy treatment as an outpatient or home visits, your GP is usually the person who would arrange this.
Onward referral to other health professionals that your physio may recommend, such as a nutritionist for example, will be up to your GP.
Physiotherapists also work in the private sector. In order to find a private physiotherapist in your area you can use the Physio2u directory.
If you have private health insurance you should check the terms and conditions of your policy before booking an appointment.
Physiofirst, the Professional Network for private practitioners, also has a listing service for private practitioners working in the UK.
Self Referral (direct access)
In some areas of the UK self-referral systems are in place, through which you can ask to see an NHS physiotherapist yourself, without going through your GP.
The reception staff at your GP practice or your local NHS provider (eg your local hospital) will be able to tell you if self-referral is available in your area.
Occupational health schemes
Some employers run occupational health schemes for their employees that may include physiotherapy. Check with your human resources or personnel department to see if you are eligible.
Larger organisations often have an in-house physio while smaller businesses may use the services of a local physiotherapy service.
There is good evidence that occupational physiotherapy is cost-effective for large and small businesses. If you are an employer or manager, find out more about how physiotherapy can help:
- reduce sickness absence
- offer additonal business benefits
Private medical insurance
Private medical insurance schemes often include physiotherapy treatment. If you are a member of such a scheme, check out if you are eligible.