Physiotherapists generally work in three separate sectors – the National Health Service (NHS), private practices, and the independent sector. Where you choose to go for physiotherapy treatment will depend on whether you are a NHS or private patient, or if you are undertaking the treatment through your place of work’s occupational health scheme. Here we give you the low down on what to expect from physiotherapists working in each sector, and what to consider when choosing a physiotherapist.
All physiotherapists working for the NHS must be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) - a regulatory body for physiotherapists that ensures fair practice and high quality work amongst its members. You are likely to find NHS physiotherapists working in hospitals, in areas such as outpatients, intensive care and paediatrics, and also within the local community. Your GP, or consultant if you are in hospital, will refer you to a physiotherapist that deals with your type of medical condition to ensure you get the best possible treatment.
If you decide to undergo private physiotherapy treatment at a private hospital or physiotherapy practice then it is important to check that your physiotherapist is a chartered physiotherapist or registered physical therapist. This will guarantee that their qualification is properly recognised, they are governed by a professional code of conduct, and they are covered by professional liability insurance. If they are properly qualified the physiotherapist should have one of the following sets of initials after their name: MCSP (Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) or FCSP (Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy).
Working within the independent sector, some physiotherapists operate on behalf of large companies that run occupational health schemes for their employees. The scheme could include provision for physiotherapy treatment for ailments such as repetitive strain injury. To find out if your company runs such a scheme, check with your human resources or personnel department.