The unprecedented strain on the NHS

NHS England does not make waiting times for physiotherapy public. However, you only have to read the news to know that waiting times are longer than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic placed unprecedented strain on the National Health Service. While the pandemic may be over, the NHS is still working to make up lost time.

It's no surprise that rather than wait months for treatments, more Britons are choosing to pay for private healthcare. A 2022 report by industry analysts LaingBuisson found that sector leaders expect the private health market to grow by 10-15% by 2025.

If you're suffering from joint pain, injury or your body just isn't moving like it should, you probably feel the same way.

Physio treating patient and talking about costs in the UK
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How to get a private physiotherapy appointment

Here are the three best ways to book an initial assessment with a private physical therapist. After your first appointment, you can book further sessions for your individual needs.

1. Get a referral from your NHS GP

Book an appointment with your doctor. They will assess your pain and if they feel it's necessary, they'll recommend further treatment.

Private physiotherapists accept self-referrals, so you don't necessarily need a letter from your doctor. However, your GP will give you advice on the best path with full knowledge of your medical history. You may find this gives you more peace of mind than a self-referral.

2. Via your private health insurance provider

If you have private medical insurance, you can contact your insurer and they will arrange an initial assessment with a physiotherapist near you. If your policy allows it, your PMI provider will also cover the payment.

3. Find a local physio and go direct

There are many ways to find a physiotherapist near you, including:

  • Search Google for a physio or clinic in your town or city
  • Ask a friend to recommend a physio that helped them with their pain
  • Search the registered members directory on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website for chartered physiotherapists working in your area
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Benefits of private physiotherapy treatment

Private treatment has several advantages compared to waiting for the NHS, including:

  • Faster appointments - A private physio can see you within 24-48 hours. The faster you can get treated, the quicker your rehabilitation
  • Easier follow-ups - After your assessment, you can book regular treatments. For example, how about attending weekly physio sessions to reinforce your treatment?
  • Wider range of specialists - Private clinics can put in you contact with specialists in specific types of physiotherapy, including manual therapy, massage and acupuncture
  • Personal treatment - NHS physiotherapists see dozens of patients every day. Private clinics work on a much smaller scale, so they can offer a personal service. Private physiotherapists spend time with their patients and get to know them on a deeper level. They'll be there before and after your treatment, making sure you're in good hands
  • Flexible appointment times - The NHS will tell you when your appointment is - and that's it. When you go private, you can select appointment times that suit you, including evenings and weekends
  • Choose where you're treated - Instead of busy NHS hospitals, you can attend beautiful, well-equipped physiotherapy clinics. You can even book a specialist to visit you in your own home
  • Simple communication - When you want to book a treatment session, don't wait for hours on hold to the NHS. Staff at private clinics will be able to help straight away when you contact them. If you're ever unable to attend a session, it's easy to contact your private surgery and avoid any cancellation fee
  • Complementary services - Private physiotherapists won't just treat your pain. They can also help with fitness, injury rehabilitation and a broad range of other services based on your individual needs
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How much does private physiotherapy cost?

Now you know the benefits of private health, it's time to talk about the prices. As you'll see, the overall cost of physiotherapy depends on many factors, including where you live and the treatments you need.

Average physiotherapy treatment costs (UK)

The average price for a 60-minute initial assessment with a private physical therapist in the UK is £75.07. The average price for follow-up consultations (30 minutes) is £52.81.

Costs of physiotherapy where you live

Here are the cities and towns with the most expensive and most affordable average physiotherapy costs. What is the price list like where you live?

Most expensive places to get private physiotherapy

Average initial assessment fee (60 minutes):

  1. London - £101.60
  2. Newcastle - £86.20
  3. Southampton - £78.50
  4. Manchester - £75.00
  5. Birmingham - £74.20

Cheapest places to get private physiotherapy

Average initial assessment fee (60 minutes):

  1. Glasgow - £59.13
  2. Cardiff - £65.70
  3. Belfast -67.13
  4. Edinburgh - £68.82

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a private physio cost UK?

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The average cost of a 60-minute assessment with a private physio is £75.07. The average cost of a 30-minute follow-up session is £52.81.

What is physical therapy?

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Physical therapy is an identical term to physiotherapy. Physical therapy is healthcare that relieves joint pain and helps your body move better. People visit physios to recover from an accident or sports injury, rehabilitate after surgery, or manage illnesses including arthritis. Methods of physical therapy can include manual therapy, massage and fitness exercises. Some physiotherapists also offer acupuncture as part of their service.

Treatment usually begins with an initial assessment session. This is a session where your physiotherapist can find the biggest source of pain and plan a remedy. Following on from your assessment, you will typically need to visit the clinic for regular sessions of around 30 minutes.

What is the average price of private physiotherapy?

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On average, in the UK, a 60-minute initial consultation costs £75.07. For 30-minute follow-up sessions it's £52.81.

Is private physio better than NHS?

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There is a cost to private physical therapy, but you'll find that going private is faster, more convenient, more personal - and you may receive better treatment.

NHS physiotherapy treatment is free of charge but doesn't come with the same level of service.

Is it worth paying for physiotherapy?

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The answer to this question depends on the level of pain you are feeling and whether you have the money available for physiotherapy. If you have the money (or private medical insurance) or are in unbearable pain, you might prefer to go private. If you're faced with a long wait for NHS treatment, a session with a private specialist could be your only hope.