Help! The NHS Waitlist Is So Long For Physio!

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“No, it can’t wait a month. I’m in pain and I can’t function.” Unfortunately, due to the extremely high demands on the NHS, the service they provide can be difficult to access. Waiting times for urgent appointments can be weeks or even months and if it isn’t what they deem as urgent I shudder to think how long you’ll be waiting. In contrast, when it comes to seeing a Physio privately you’ll most likely have the option to see one of our physios that day or the next, definitely within the week at a push depending on your preference of location and timing, but you will have a mountain of options compared to the NHS.

But what if you do think your problem can wait? I suppose there’s a spectrum of how urgent a case may be. If I’m going to be predantic, I’d say that urgent means a matter of life or death in which case I hold my hands up and will tell you that you’ll probably want a doctor not a physio (although we are all trained in first aid, we’d rather leave it to the experts).

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Why should I see a Physio sooner rather than later?

As a general rule your problem can probably wait a few days, but we don’t really want you to leave it longer than a week or so depending on what it is. The reason being is when you have a problem and just ignore it, you’re taking a risk. You might turn around and tell me that your neck has hurt in the past and you just left it for a few days and the pain went away on its own which is great! But that’s not guaranteed to always happen and who wants to gamble with their health?  This then leads us onto the question of why did your neck just start to randomly hurt? Maybe you associate it with sleeping in a funny position, but maybe it goes a bit deeper than that. You may have some underlying biomechanical issues that we can address and thereby prevent your neck from hurting again in the future. We’d rather you get yourself in here so that we can assess, diagnose and treat you for whatever your problem is and prevent it from growing into something bigger, and prevent it from happening again.


After all prevention is better than cure!

The Cost Factor

Other things to consider when it comes to physiotherapy treatment are appointment times, facilities and cost. The elephant in the room is obviously cost. Yes, you do have to pay for private physiotherapy, no you don’t have to pay for NHS physiotherapy. Can you put a price on your health though?

What if your problem isn’t so bad now and you can still work and do all the things you enjoy (it’s just a little niggle), but you have to wait for so long to be seen by a physio in the NHS that your problem becomes chronic, more difficult to treat and more than just a little niggle-it’s now stopping you from living your best life.

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Think of it as an investment where the sooner you invest, hopefully the less you’ll need to put in and the more you’ll get back. Seems like a win win!

Appointment Lengths

There is definitely some variation between different NHS trusts when it comes to appointment times, but they can be from as little as 30 minutes for an initial assessment and 15 minutes for a follow up. There is often also limited availability for appointment times and you don’t always get the choice of booking a time that suits you, rather you’ll just be sent an appointment time and will have to hope that it’s one that works for you. This is definitely better than nothing and if that was your only option, I’d tell you to go for it.

When seeing a private Physio you are likely to get a full hour for your initial assessment and the choice of thirty minutes or one hour for follow up appointments. Most insurance companies will pay for a full hour initial assessment too and a 30 minute follow up although there is some variation – at a minimum your appointment will last for 30 minutes.

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NHS Facilities Vs Private Facilities

Private Physiotherapy clinics tend to have much better facilities than what the NHS can offer. I can’t promise that you won’t get the same through the NHS and that it’s only on offer privately because every NHS trust is different and has different resources and I haven’t seen them all.

However, what I can tell you is that based on previous experience working for the NHS, the physiotherapy departments are unfortunately not well funded and it is therefore unlikely that their facilities will match that of a private clinic. Access to a fully kitted out gym, swimming pools for hydrotherapy, advanced technology for therapy, acupuncture, specialist footscan assessments and home visits are at your disposal and private physio will base your treatment on what’s best for you, not on what will be the least expensive for the business or NHS.

Privately you won’t have a limit on how many sessions you can have which is unfortunately the case when it comes to physio treatment via the NHS. The way we treat you is the way we would want to be treated, meaning we don’t just want to get you 70% better which is often what you’ll experience with physio through the NHS due to only being allowed a certain number of appointments.

Rather we aim to take you all the way and more, with our pain to performance model where we progress through the stages of rehab aiming to get you to a place even better and stronger than before.

Preventing the need for Physio

I suppose ultimately the goal would be to not have such a high demand on physiotherapy services, both privately and in the NHS meaning that the entire population is fit and healthy and at their optimum physical health. This is where I will tell you to be proactive in looking after your health so that you don’t require our services or those of the NHS whether for physio or anything else. However, this can be easier said than done depending on various factors such as underlying medical conditions, mental health, genetic conditions, changes to training, natural aging process etc. We understand that not everything is in our control, and despite however much we encourage you to take pride in your health and look after yourself as best as you can we know that there will be times when we all struggle to be at our optimum physical health and ability. Which is why we are here to help you to reach your goals and more.


So, the choice is yours…..will you decide to wait it out or take matters into your own hands and go private?

If you decide you can’t wait and need to be seen sooner rather than later contact us and we will be happy to get you on the road to recovery.


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We accept all major healthcare insurers, if you don't see yours listed don't worry, we may still be able to help, just get in touch and we'll do what we can to help!