UK (Physiotherapy)

Original Editor - Rachael Lowe

Top Contributors - Rachael Lowe  

Patient Access to Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy Services / Entry Point

There are three main treatment routes if you are resident in the United Kingdom and wish to see a physiotherapist, these are via the NHS (primary or secondary care), private practitioners or the independent sector: 

Primary Care

Patients who are not in hospital but would like to go via the NHS, depending on where they live,  will first need to make an appointment with their general practitioner (GP) and then ask to be referred to see a physiotherapist. Onward referral will be at the discretion of the GP.  A number of hospitals are now offering self-referral to physiotherapy. If their hospital is offering this service, they can make an appointment to see a physiotherapist without needing to see your GP first.

Secondary Care

If in hospital already following surgery or due to illness patients will have the oppotunity to see a physiotherapist if deemed appropriate for their condition.  The physiotherapist will use their clinical reasoning skills to select patients on the ward that require physiotherapy treatment or patients will be referred for physiotherapy treatement by a member of the multi-disciplinary team.  These patients are always under the care of a consultant.

Private Care

If in a position to pay for their own treatment patients can have direct access to physiotherapy without the need to see a doctor beforehand.  There are a large number of physiotherapists across the UK offering treatment in dedicated physiotherapy and sports injury clinics as well as many who will treat people in their own homes. 

Independent Sector

Via the independent sector, some large employers run occupational health schemes for their employees that may include provision for physiotherapy treatment or private medical insurance schemes for individuals through the independent healthcare sector will often include physiotherapy treatment.

Therapist Preparation


All Physiotherapists in the UK have at least 3-4 years training and a Degree from a Higher Education Institution. This entitles them to become a member of the Health Professions Council which then entitles them to practice in the UK.  The CSP provide a list of qualifying programmes in the UK


Most physiotherapists specialise in an area of their particular interest.  Many graduates continue their studies to gain a Masters and/or Phd in a particular area that they are interested in working.

Professional Associations

A graduate degree (Bsc) entitles physiotherapists to register with the UK regulatory board, the Health Professions Council (HPC).  They can also choose to become a member of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (MCSP).  The CSP also has a number of Clinical Interest and Occupational Groups that UK physiotherapists can choose to become a member of.

Information about the Patient Community

The population of the UK was nearly 62 million in mid 2009[1]  The main causes of mortality are Ischaemic Heart Disease, Cerebrovascular Disease, Respiratory Diseases and Cancer.

Social/Cultural Influences

  • What is the influence of the family on a patient's health status?
  • What are the typical patient's living conditions, family dynamics, and cultural back ground?

Delivery of Care

  • Is delivery of care provided in a timely manner?
  • Special methods? Home health etc

Type of Health System

  • Is it a national health system with universal access?

Payment System

  • What methods to patient use to pay for service? (Insurance, bartering etc.)


References will automatically be added here, see adding references tutorial.

  1. Office for national Statistics. Population Change. Available at [last accessed 10/8/2010}