Private Physiotherapy vs Public: Which is Best?

Written by Chris Bradley

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You may have been referred or decided to see a physiotherapist to relieve pain, restore movement, or regain strength due to an injury or disability. However, the question is whether to wait for an NHS appointment or book a private physiotherapy appointment in London.

Read our guide, which details the differences between both options, focusing on wait time, appointment duration, diagnosis quality, and more, helping you to decide whether it is better to go private or with the NHS.

Understanding the Difference Between Private Physiotherapy and Free UK Healthcare 


It is a frequently asked question: Should I go with an NHS or private physiotherapist? The following five insights should help you pick an option right for you.

1. There’s Less Wait Time With a Private Physio

Private Physio

The public healthcare system is in high demand, so the wait time for physio treatment with the NHS can be anywhere between 5 and 24 weeks.

There may also be delays between getting your initial appointment with your GP, being referred, and waiting for your physiotherapy appointment date.

This lengthy and uncertain wait time means you may suffer from pain for longer and potentially risk worsening it.

On the other hand, private clinics can offer appointments within days.

This faster process speeds up not only the period between booking and receiving treatment but also your recovery time.

Furthermore, the short duration means you’ll be less at risk of worsening physical issues.

2. Private Physiotherapy Clinics Offer More Flexible Appointments

Flexible Appointments

When it comes to the physio appointment itself, private clinics can be flexible on the date and time you have, working around what suits you.

Additionally, if visiting a private clinic, you can request to see your preferred physiotherapist instead of being assigned to someone with limited or no knowledge of your circumstances.

However, the NHS typically sends out a letter with the date and time of your physio appointment. If you can’t make your appointment, you may need help knowing what to do since no alternative dates/times are provided and rearranging appointments is not easy.

The rhythm of sessions can also vary, some people may only have one appointment every four weeks, which, in many cases, is not enough to recover.

The NHS also doesn’t make out-of-hours appointments except for emergencies, so you must book time off work if your appointment clashes.

Furthermore, due to staff shortages in public NHS hospitals, they aren’t able to offer personal, hands-on advice; instead, they give their patients a list of standard instructions to follow.

On the other hand, when you go private, the physiotherapist will focus on you for the full session. They will offer you advice and techniques that are suitable for your individual needs and a more manual approach to treating your aches and pains.

3. Private Physiotherapy Clinics Can Give a Faster Diagnosis

Private Clinic

Private clinics tend to be able to offer a comprehensive service, enabling an effective and fast turnaround.

Treatment will be given by highly experienced professionals who can tailor it to suit your needs. Because of this, you should have a diagnosis in a short time, i.e. a clear understanding of what’s triggering your pain or lack of mobility and how it can be remedied.

On the other hand, if you attend a public healthcare clinic, it may take several sessions before you learn your diagnosis, prolonging your pain or lack of mobility and the time it takes to receive appropriate treatment.

4. Longer Appointment Sessions are Available at Private Physiotherapy Clinics

Longer Appointments

In public clinics, time is constrained; your physio appointment and the therapist could be against the clock.

Because your session is so short, you may find it difficult to relax fully, affecting your treatment and results.

Conversely, physio appointments in private clinics are typically around 30 to 40 minutes long.

The longer duration that private clinics offer means you won’t feel rushed; instead, you can relax and feel the full effects of your treatment.

Furthermore, the longer your physio appointments are, the fewer sessions you’ll need to have, as you’ll have pain relief and restore flexibility and strength quicker than you would with the NHS.

5. Private Physios Offer Specialised Services


As mentioned, private clinics tend to be comprehensive, offering specialised services. Physiotherapists keep up to date with treatments and techniques, enabling them to provide the latest advice and high-quality service.

Bodytonic, an award-winning clinic in East London, offers physiotherapy as well as several other services, such as shockwave therapy, massages, medical acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasounds and more.

But how much is private physiotherapy?

Private physio costs may vary depending on the clinic’s location and the physiotherapist’s expertise.

At bodytonic clinic, we offer a free video consultation, followed by a face-to-face initial appointment with the option of follow-up appointments thereafter. For the latest pricing, for physio – or any of our services – take a look at our pricing page.

Physiotherapy in a private clinic may be considered a costly option, particularly when compared to the free healthcare service; however, the expertise and advice given by the specialists within private clinics far outweigh that of a time-restricted and staff-restricted public service.

So, private vs NHS, which should you go with? Whether you are struggling with pain or lack of mobility, after reading this blog, you should be able to decide which is right for you.

If you are looking for a trained and experienced physiotherapist in East London, contact us today. Our clinic is comfortable and modern, allowing you to relax and ultimately feel the full benefits of your treatment.

Even if you are waiting for a physio appointment within the public healthcare service, consider going private to alleviate any issues and prevent new ones from occurring.