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6 Major Differences Between Private Physiotherapy And The NHS

At Chiltern Physiotherapy, we have spoken to a lot of patients lately who have been asking about the benefits of private physiotherapy, and the advantages compared to the NHS. We’ve heard stories of various experiences such as only being offered telephone appointments, struggling to get face to face access to their GP, long waiting lists and being given vague answers about how long to expect to wait before gaining access to the NHS service. Then there is another group who have waited so patiently only to be given one or two appointments with no hands on treatment and being given a basic ‘generic exercise leaflet before being discharged still in pain and no further forward. Not exactly worth waiting six months plus for.

So in this blog, we’re going to highlight the 6 major differences between private physiotherapy and the NHS and look at who private physiotherapy is best suited to.

Not everyone can afford private physio and I understand and respect that. I worked within the NHS system for many years before leaving disillusioned as I couldn’t care for my patients to the best of my ability due to the restriction on time and resources. It continues to help a lot of people every single day, it has a lot of excellent clinicians, it has a lot of people who genuinely care about their patients, but the system does not allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability. The NHS is still the best option for some people, but for others it’s sadly no longer appropriate.

Just in case you don't want to read the full blog, contact us Chiltern Physiotherapy on 01923 283845 (or book online here) if you want:

  • To be seen within a few days, rather than a few months

  • To be able to book appointments at convenient times that fit your schedule and check availability online 24 hours a day

  • To finally discover the root cause of your pain or injury, and receive a clear, easy to understand and personalised treatment plan

  • To get the fastest results possible with face-to-face appointments and hands-on treatment and exercises to continue your rehab at home

  • To be listened to, and have the opportunity to ask questions in a relaxed environment and be given the confidence and reassurance necessary to start making progress without worrying about making your problem worse

  • To be treated to the maximum level of recovery that is possible for you, so you have the highest quality of life possible, and get to the best level of mobility and strength you can achieve.

So what exactly is the difference between the NHS and private physiotherapy at Chiltern Physiotherapy?

1. Shorter Waiting Times

The first major difference between private physiotherapy and the NHS is the length of waiting times for appointments.

Due to the challenges and immense pressure on the free healthcare service partly caused by the pandemic, partly caused by their systemic inefficiencies, and partly caused by their culture, the waiting times are significant for physiotherapy. We have spoken to patients who are frustrated waiting 16+ weeks for their first appointment.

Whilst we completely sympathise with the NHS, this is affecting people just like you, who are suffering with severe pain, limited movement, and at risk of their injuries turning into something far worse. The NHS is great with cancers, heart disease, strokes and urgent and serious conditions. Sadly the service for non life threatening and chronic pain issues has declined over many years.

We can offer appointments within days, sometimes on the same day if we’ve had a cancellation, and offer online booking so you can quickly find an appointment that suits your schedule.

2. Fast & Accurate Diagnosis

As well as being able to see an expert sooner with private physiotherapy, all of our team are highly experienced and can give you an accurate diagnosis during your assessment session.

From there, your therapist will explain in a straight-forward, jargon-free way what the issue is, what needs to happen next and offer you a tailored treatment plan that is unique to you. We have longer appointments and treatment sessions than the NHS so we can explain things clearly and answer all your questions. For example we allocate 60 minutes for your initial assessment appointment whereas the NHS typically allocates 20-30 minutes.

This means you can leave your assessment without the confusion and anxiety that you have been dealing with. Having clarity on what the plan is to recovery is like a weight of your mind and many of our clients feel very relieved after the assessment as they now have a clear understanding of their problem.

Due to time pressures within the free healthcare service, we have spoken to clients who have been to several NHS appointments and still don’t know what the issue is because no one has taken the time, or care to explain things to them.

"After months of doctors and MRIs trying to figure out why I had knee pain when running, being giving steroid injections that did nothing to help, I started physio at Chiltern Physiotherapy. Georgia immediately identified my issue by looking at me for 30mins on the treadmill and I’ve noticed improvement with the exercises she prescribed.

I’ve also had sports massages with Joel and literally just walked out after a session feeling like I have new hips! On top of this all the staff are very friendly and accommodating - 10/10 would recommend prior to seeing any doctors."

Alex Whittaker, 5 star Google review

3. Hands on Treatment

At Chiltern Physiotherapy you will receive face-to-face appointments with hands-on assessment and treatment from our expert physiotherapists which gives you the best chance of recovering from injuries sooner, reducing pain faster, and improving your mobility quicker. We also have a fully equipped gym to help you get stronger and prevent injuries recurring.

Compare this to the free healthcare version which will include no (or very little) hands-on treatment, or even worse, appointments may be held virtually over telephone. So after waiting for months, you may not even get to see a physiotherapist face-to-face, and even if you do, the treatment sessions you will receive will be more limited as they are under pressure to discharge patients as early as possible due to their waiting lists and government driven targets.

The cost of this is that it is likely to take longer to diagnose your problem, and much longer to treat the root cause which means you are left in pain and worried about what could happen if things get worse. Sadly this is ruining the reputation of Physiotherapy as some people believe that physiotherapy doesn’t work.

4. Flexible Appointment Times

The fourth major difference between private physiotherapy and the NHS is that you have much more flexibility in the date and time of your appointments.

If you are referred to a physiotherapist by your GP (rather than prescribed painkillers and rest), you generally receive a letter in the post weeks later with a time and date for your appointment – There are no alternatives provided, and if you can’t make it, it’s very difficult to re-arrange a date and time that suits you.

At Chiltern Physiotherapy you have a much wider range of appointment dates and times available to you, including early morning and evenings, so you don’t have to miss work or arrange childcare for your little ones.

5. First Class Service & Aftercare

At Chiltern Physiotherapy you are listened to, you can ask questions, and you can have things explained to you in a way that you understand and at your own pace.

We pride ourselves on the first-class service that every single member of our team delivers, and we know from our patients’ stories, that this has a huge impact on the overall experience you will receive with in our clinics.

"I had a vision of physio being a painful branch of medicine, where inflicting pain was essential to effect a cure. My first experience could not be further from the truth!

Georgia is using her pro football background and interest in golf to make my sessions and home work interesting, relevant, albeit hard work for and old guy!"

Ian Steel, 5 star Google Review

Along with this, we’re easier to contact with our amazing admin team answer the phone 6 days a week so we’re on hand whenever you need to speak to us.

We want to be in your corner all the way and support, treat and guide you to get better and stay better.

6. Fast & Complete Service

The final major difference between private physiotherapy and the NHS is that you receive fast, and complete treatment.

With private physiotherapy, there is no restrictions to the number of sessions that you can take, and this means that we are able to work with you to create a detailed treatment plan that will get you as healthy as possible. We love to help you fully recover and then prevent the problem from recurring.

We want you to enjoy all the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle and our aim is to improve your health wellbeing beyond the level you were previously at regardless of age.

In comparison to free healthcare, you are limited in the number of sessions you are allowed (and most people are still in pain when discharged), or your sessions are stopped once you reach a (very low) basic level of recovery, such as being back at work or managing basic activities of daily living. This is certainly progress but if you normally enjoy long walks, run a 10km or enjoy the gym then we want to ensure we safely get you back to the things that you love to do.

The free version of physiotherapy can be a box ticking exercise, and it is unlikely that you will be treated to the point that you are happy. Instead, you will be treated until you reach a minimum level which meets their standard not your own and discharged even if you aren’t fully recovered with your mobility and are still suffering with aches and pains.

The NHS also has not been able to invest in it’s physio services as budgets continue to be cut. As a result rehab space has been lost and less rehab is now being delivered. In contrast we have invested in a fully equipped gym and the latest technology to provide a comprehensive treatment plan including therapeutic ultrasound, shockwave, force platform gait analysis and orthotic prescription. We can deliver all of this and much more, to ensure you get better and stay better. After all we want you to become the best version of yourself!

The Downside of Waiting

With the current waiting times, a quick fix injury can easily become a more life-altering injury. A stiff ankle from walking or exercising can easily develop into something more chronic and in turn, affect your mobility. Back pain can lead to long-term issues with your posture and develop new habits and lifestyle choices which limit the quality of your life unnecessarily.

It’s sad and disappointing to learn how some people just wait and suffer with simple injuries as they believe it’s just “old age” or “wear and tear” and that nothing can be done. This caused them to believe that exercise was harmful and chose to avoid certain movements and activities and put up with frequent discomfort which only confirmed that they were right that “you can’t do these things at my age”. This is NOT true!

Delayed treatment can quickly turn into something more chronic that could require help for a longer length of time, so make sure that you consider this when thinking about your route of treatment. Evidence clearly demonstrates the early treatment is provided the quicker your recover and the less treatment that is required.

How To Find Out More About Private Physiotherapy

If you think that private physiotherapy is a good fit for you, have any questions, or would like to book an appointment with Chiltern Physiotherapy call 01923 283845 or book online here.

We would encourage you to contact us as soon as possible as we are very busy.

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