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Should I wait for NHS physiotherapy?

The NHS has been in the news a lot recently with many of the political parties pledging more money to fund service improvements. This additional funding is badly needed and I want to share my experience of working in the NHS. When I started back in 2005 at Croydon PCT there was a 52-week waiting list to see a physiotherapist. Can you imagine this? Hurting your back or your knee and having to wait a whole year before you are seen.

Let’s say you hurt your back today and it takes you a few days to see your GP (in reality this could be two or three weeks), then you are referred to physiotherapy and you are on the NHS waiting list for at least three or four weeks. So this could be nearly two months of suffering before you even get your problems seen to.

How to beat NHS waiting lists

Go to a private physiotherapist and you simply don’t have to wait. The second benefit is availability of appointments. Most hospitals and outpatient clinics only operate between Monday and Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. This means that you will have to take time off work getting to the hospital to have your treatment.

I’m also hearing more and more from patients and from newly qualified physiotherapists that you are unlikely to get any hands on treatment on the NHS. The trend in NHS physiotherapy now is to encourage you to self manage with home exercises. In a small number of cases this is all you need, however, in the vast majority of cases you still need hands on treatment such as massage, acupuncture or joint manipulation. In private practice patient’s expect to be given hands on treatment.

As you can imagine there was huge pressure on the staff in the NHS to get patients in and out as quickly as possible, sometimes only giving patients a few sessions before being discharged with home exercises.

Exercise is a great way to improve your health and the research does show that having a regular exercise program improves many musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain or shoulder pain. But there is still a place for hands-on physiotherapy treatment such as receiving joint mobilisation or massage. If you have a sore neck and shoulders you naturally massage the area yourself or ask your spouse to give you a massage, it’s almost innate that we resort to this self-treatment when we are in pain, and of course it makes the problem feel a little better.

How much does private physiotherapy cost?

Of course there is a small cost of perhaps £100-£150 if you need 2 or 3 treatments. Herein lies the value. At Wandsworth physiotherapy you don’t have to wait for appointments as we can normally see you within 24 hours of making contact, we offer evening and weekend appointments so you can get an appointment outside of your work hours and you’ll receive hands on treatment as well as a home exercise programme.

About Wandsworth Physiotherapy

infoAt Wandsworth Physiotherapy and Osteopathy we are focused on getting you out of pain and back to what you love doing. Whether it's playing with your kids or simply being able to sit on the train comfortably; whether it's being able to get back into the gym class or to run 5k again; whether it's to banish the Tena Lady or being able to lift your child without pain our expert physiotherapists and osteopaths are here to help.