Private Physiotherapy in London – Everything You Need to Know

private physiotherapy in London Physiotherapy in London

Private physiotherapy in London is popular for everything from back pain to sports injuries – but is it worth paying for? With physiotherapy available for free on the NHS, you are likely wondering whether you should put up with the lengthy wait times for a cost-free session. While physiotherapy requires paying out of pocket (or using private health insurance), it remains incredibly popular. This article explores why!

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, is the use of manual treatments to soothe aches, pains and other physical conditions. It is a recognised medical practice, with physiotherapists required to undergo rigorous education and register to practise in the UK.

Within physiotherapy, there are numerous different types. Neurological physiotherapy, for example, could be used to help rehabilitate a patient after a stroke. Paediatric physiotherapy, on the other hand, uses treatments specialised for conditions that impact babies, children and adolescents. For general aches and pains, from stiff joints to bad posture, musculoskeletal physiotherapy has all the treatments you need.

Physiotherapy Services in London

London is home to hundreds of physiotherapy clinics and independent professionals, so you are really spoilt for choice. One of the primary reasons people opt for private physiotherapy is that it provides the freedom to find a physiotherapist who suits them.

Below, you’ll find a direct comparison of private and NHS physio options in the UK. However, if you want to learn more about what makes a good physiotherapist and how to choose one, start with our Ultimate Guide to Physiotherapy.

london private physiotherapy session for ankle pain Physiotherapy in London

Private Physiotherapy vs NHS Physiotherapy

If you need physiotherapy but are unsure whether to take up the NHS sessions offer, here’s what you need to know.

Price

Physiotherapy on the NHS is free, the only “hook” is that you need to be referred to it by your GP or a physician. Self-referral to NHS physiotherapy is only available in certain areas of the UK due to availability and wait times.

Private physiotherapy in London, however, will cost anywhere from £40 to £150 for a single session. There’s a lot of variability here, depending on the clinic itself (overhead costs!) as well as the expertise of the physiotherapist. The more specialist the type of physio you require, the longer the session and the more equipment used, the higher the price. You can often find deals and lower prices if you book multiple sessions at once.

Importantly, private physiotherapy may be free if you have private insurance. Many physio clinics, including One Body LDN, work with all major health insurance providers. Learn more about this below.

Session Length

NHS physiotherapy sessions can be as short as 20 minutes, it really depends on how busy the service is in your area. Some NHS physiotherapists may be able to offer longer sessions. For the NHS, it’s all about offering a good quality yet speedy service – there are a lot of patients that need to be seen. Although the NHS physiotherapists are highly qualified and precise in their treatments, the sessions aren’t as thorough, and you may not have time to explore other ailments that bother you.

Private physiotherapy sessions are usually 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 90 minutes long. Some specialist sessions may be up to two hours long. Most initial assessments are 30 minutes long, allowing your physiotherapist to diagnose your condition. They will tell you the length of session you’ll need going forward and the number of sessions required overall. Private physio sessions in London tend to have a more relaxed pace, allowing you to comfortably ask questions and build trust with your physiotherapist.

Flexibility

The NHS does its best to offer a great service to as many people as possible. We are huge admirers of the physiotherapists who work for the NHS – some of the team at One Body LDN started their careers there too. However, there is no flexibility with schedules and timings. You’ll be told when your physio session will be and you must attend if you want treatment. If you miss your session, you may have difficulty rearranging it. There are a lot of patients that need to be seen.

Private physiotherapy, on the other hand, is much more flexible. First, there are little to no wait times. In fact, you can often book a same-day appointment. You’ll also have lots of choices, including:

  • Which physiotherapist you see.
  • The clinic location you attend.
  • The length of the session.
  • Day and time of the session (including times that fit around your 9-to-5).
  • The ongoing schedule for your physio sessions.

There may still be penalties and fees if you miss a session, but you’ll be able to rebook without fuss. Importantly, it shouldn’t hinder your recovery process.

This is the biggest draw to private physiotherapy in London. Yes, you need to pay for each session, but the quality of the service you receive and the convenience make it worth every penny. From weekend sessions to late evening time slots and even home visits, private physio puts the focus on your recovery above all else.

private physiotherapy in london sessions at One Body Physiotherapy in London

Specialities and Expertise

All physiotherapists in the UK have a degree and must be registered to practice – this applies to both NHS and private therapists. Nonetheless, there are further specialisations that physiotherapists can study, and many will have specific areas of expertise.

NHS specialities are typically focused on rehab and recovery. Whether you have a musculoskeletal problem after an injury or need to refine your coordination and balance due to a neurological condition, the NHS will match you with a knowledgeable physiotherapist. However, you may not have a choice of the specialist you see, especially if there are long wait times for niche professionals.

With private physiotherapy in London particularly, you have access to a wide range of physiotherapists with varying expertise and specialities. You can choose a professional who has additional qualifications and a proven track record in the treatments you are seeking or the condition you are living with. Private clinics also have access to state-of-the-art equipment and hire professionals to use them. Some examples of treatments and techniques that a private clinic can offer include:

  • Soft and deep tissue massage.
  • Acupuncture and needling.
  • Athletic and injury rehab.
  • Strength training and conditioning.
  • Osteopathy, shockwave therapy, and other specialist treatments.

To learn more about the different techniques used for the various types of physiotherapy, check our Physiotherapy London services next.

Follow-Up Sessions

When a patient is referred for physiotherapy, it is quite rare that they only require a single session. Typically, that first session is all about making a diagnosis and assessing what treatments will work best for your current physique.

With NHS physiotherapy, you can expect to receive at least one follow-up session. This allows the physiotherapist to ensure you are progressing in the right direction and practising exercises or other treatments as directed. However, depending on service availability, an NHS physiotherapist is unlikely to offer you further sessions to walk you through recovery. Three to five physiotherapy sessions in total is average, based on our experiences.

In contrast, private physiotherapy ensures that you receive as many sessions as you require after your initial assessment. There’s no limit. This could be as few as five sessions or more than 10 – it depends on how your body responds to treatment. Our physiotherapists regularly assess your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary. We aren’t overbooked with patients and rushing to see as many people as possible so we can focus on long-term recovery. You can discuss with your private physiotherapist to find out how many sessions they estimate you’ll need.

physio in a private clinic for neck pain Physiotherapy in London

Insurance for Private Physiotherapy

One way to pay for private physiotherapy sessions is through health insurance. At One Body LDN, we accept health insurance policies, corporate health benefit plans, and cashback plans to help you cover the cost.

To use insurance for private physiotherapy in London, the first thing you need to do is contact your insurer. They will tell you if you need a GP note referring you to physiotherapy, and they’ll also be able to tell you if your policy has an excess.

Next, provide your insurer with the therapist or clinic provider number to get an authorisation code. With that done, you can contact the clinic to book an appointment. The whole process can be completed in as little as 24 hours.

You can find One Body LDN’s provider codes here.

FAQs

How much is a private physio appointment in London?

For a single 30-minute session, prices start at around £40 and increase with session length, physio specialities, and therapist seniority.

Is it worth paying for private physiotherapy in London?

Both private and NHS physiotherapists are highly trained and provide a good service. Private is worth paying for when you want more schedule flexibility, convenience, and more sessions than the NHS offers. Private physio also allows you to skip the lengthy referrals and wait times.

Can I have private and NHS physiotherapy at the same time?

It is possible to have both NHS and private physiotherapy in London simultaneously, however it’s more common for NHS patients to choose to continue physio with a private clinic once their limited NHS sessions end.

How many physio sessions do you get on the NHS?

The exact number of physio sessions received on the NHS varies depending on your reason for referral, however we find that most NHS patients only receive three to five sessions. For patients seeking further follow-up sessions and long-term guided treatments, private physiotherapy is the best avenue.

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Kurt Johnson
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