CSP History

Founded by four nurses in 1894, the CSP was awarded its Royal Charter in 1920 and has become the profession's leading membership organisation in the UK.


The first WCPT Congress organised by the CSP in 1953. Click to play video


The Society is established as the Society of Trained Masseuses by Lucy Marianne Robinson, Rosalind Paget, Elizabeth Anne Manley and Margaret Dora Palmer. The four nurses wish to protect their profession after stories in the press warn young nurses and the public of unscrupulous people offering massage as a euphemism for other services.

The Society acquires the legal and public status of a professional organisation and becomes the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses.

The CSP journal begins as The Journal of the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses vol. 1 no. 1 July 1915 - vol. 5 no. 6 December 1919. In 1920 the title is changed to The Journal of the Chartered Society of Massage and Medical Gymnastics vol. 5 no. 7 January 1920 - vol. 19 no.6 December 1943. Again in 1944 the title changes, this time to The Journal of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy vol. 19 no. 7 January 1944 - vol. 33 no. 6 December 1947. The final title change takes place in 1948 when it becomes Physiotherapy: Journal of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, vol. 34 no.1, 1948 onwards. In the early days the journal informed members about the proceedings of Council, examination results and it continues to disseminate research and good practice in physiotherapy to members and other interested readers:

  • Older journals and early copies of 'Physiotherapy' 1915 to date
  • Online full text for CSP members from 1988

Queen Mary becomes Patroness

Under its new name the Chartered Society of Massage and Medical Gymnastics is granted a Royal Charter by King George V on 11th June. In the same year the Society amalgamates with the Institute of Massage and Remedial Gymnastics and grows to establish branches and local boards all over the country. Also in 1920, men are permitted to join the Society.

The Association of Teachers of Physiotherapy was the first clinical interest and occupational group to be formed in 1922 followed by the Association of Orthopaedic Chartered Physiotherapists in 1945.

Armorial Bearings of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is granted by the College of Arms.

In order to represent the scope of its work, the Society adopts its present name 'The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy'

The CSP is a founding member of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy. In 1953 the first WCPT Congress (video above) is organised by the CSP and held at the Central Methodist Hall in London.

Queen Elizabeth II becomes Patron, a role she held for nearly 70 years until her death in 2022.

Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act establishes the Council for the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM) to regulate the initial training, fitness to practise, and the conduct of physiotherapy and other allied health professions.

The Faculty of Physiotherapists amalgamate with the CSP.

On 24 June 1969 the headquarters in Bedford Row is opened by Princess Alexandra.

The Physiotherapists Association Ltd amalgamate with the CSP.

Chair of Council is a physiotherapist for the first time - Lois Dyer.

The Northern Ireland School of Physiotherapy at the Ulster College, Belfast starts the first undergraduate course in physiotherapy. The London Hospital School of Physiotherapy which subsequently became the North East London Polytechnic began its degree course in 1981. In 1982 a degree course began at Queen's College, Glasgow. The Society is certified as an independent trade union.

The Department of Health memorandum HC(77)33 establishes professional autonomy for physiotherapists.

The Privy Council agrees a change to the Society's bye-laws to allow physiotherapists to treat patients without prior medical referral.

Fred Frazer is the first member to gain a PHD. 'Domiciliary physiotherapy: cost and benefit' (Aston University).

The Society of Remedial Gymnastics and Recreational Therapy completes a merger with the CSP.

In order to involve them in the development of the Society, student physiotherapists are admitted as members.

Membership of the society (MCSP) ceasedbe a recognised qualification and was replaced by degree courses. 

Physiotherapy becomes an all graduate entry profession.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy decides to join the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

By 1994 physiotherapy is an all graduate profession. In the same year the Society allows support workers to become associate members.

Injection therapy comes within the scope of physiotherapy practice.

The CSP's launches its first website: http://www.csp.org.uk

Health Professionals Council (HPC) replaces the Council for the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM). Physiotherapists come under the Regulation of the HPC in 2003 under the Health Professions Order (2001). One of its first actions is to establish legal protection of the titles 'Physiotherapist' and 'Physical Therapist' in respect of human physiotherapy practice.

The first physiotherapy consultant, Paul Watson, is appointed honorary consultant physiotherapist at University Hospitals of Leicester Trust.

CSP endorses a professional doctorate for the first time (University of Brighton), and the inaugural meeting of the CSP Retirement Association is held in October 2003.

The Agenda for Change collective agreement is reached with the NHS unions. National roll out begins in December, with pay and most terms and conditions backdated to 1 October 2004.

Supplementary prescribing rights were extended to physiotherapists by the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

The first doctorate in physiotherapy (DPT) in the UK has been awarded to Nicola Petty, principal lecturer from the University of Brighton.

The first step towards Independent Prescribing status is achieved. Ministers have announced their agreement to lay amendments to medicines legislation before Parliament that would enable independent prescribing responsibilities to be extended to appropriately qualified physiotherapists. 2012 was also the year the CSP as a union called a strike against changes in the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On 20 August 2013 the senior Health Minister for England signed the Statutory Instrument No 1855 Medicines: The Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2013 giving physiotherapists and podiatrists the right to undertake full independent prescribing after suitable training. 

Karen Middleton becomes chief executive. Karen is the first woman CEO and also the first who is a member of the physiotherapy profession.

Sees the appointment of physiotherapists as First Contact Practitioners in General Practice to manage the musculoskeletal (MSK) caseload in the practice.


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had major impact on the work of all medicine and healthcare professionals.


Publication of the CSP Equity, Diversity and Belonging Strategy in September 2021.


Establishment of CSP Equity, Diversity and Belonging Committee in February 2022.


England (January/February 2023) and Northern Ireland (September 2023) take strike action for the first time in the profession’s history over the issues of pay and retention.


His Majesty King Charles III becomes Patron of the CSP.

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