Physiotherapy is a service that is offered on the NHS and though this will be free when you attend your appointments there are some significant limitations that must be considered before you begin your treatment.

As most of us are aware, there is an ever- increasing pressure on the NHS. Patients must be prioritised and focus in emergency cases is understandably put on those in a life- threatening condition. Issues that impose less risk to general health e.g. back pain, ankle pain and knee injuries etc will therefore come much lower on the priority list. This can frequently lead to a delayed or incorrect diagnosis and thus a protracted recovery for those suffering with musculoskeletal disorders.

When dealing with daily aches and strains a referral from your GP can also take weeks (and more commonly: months). By then you may be feeling better or you may be significantly worse and have suffered additional problems as you attempted to deal with the pain. Despite every intention to help the NHS can frequently struggle to offer everyone the best treatment.

The following 10 points are advantages to investing in your recovery:


GP appointments are rarely made on the day and this is only a stepping- stone to get the treatment you need on the NHS. If you have suffered an acute ankle sprain at the weekend and it is swollen, painful and difficult to walk on it is frustrating to have to wait to see your GP first when you know it isn’t going to help. With private physiotherapy the only time it may be necessary to see your GP is if you wish to pay through private medical insurance: this can vary according to the company you are insured with and your individual policy. On other occasions you can simply book an appointment as and when you wish.


In addition to GP appointments, services offered on the NHS offer little or no flexibility when it comes to appointment times. This can therefore result in you having to take time off work and can impose a major inconvenience to the already heavy demands of daily life. Private services can give you the freedom to pick appointment times that suit you and often offer treatments before and or after work as well as on weekends. This ensures you not only get seen faster, but that you can comply with the treatment programme necessary to ensure you recover. At Davina Sherwood Physiotherapy, treatment starts as early as 8am and can finishes at 8.00pm. Saturdays are also available and always ask if there is flexibility around this as we aim to ensure you get the treatment you need.


We are all aware of the long waiting lists on the NHS. To reduce this the number of treatment sessions you have, how often you are seen and how long you are seen for are all restricted. For physiotherapy to be most effective a programme of treatment is necessary. If you are suffering with acute pain, treatment may be needed twice a week in the early stages and if you are recovering from surgery and aim to return to sport then a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is going to be required including strength and range of movement work on a frequent basis. 60 minutes is often required to give you the best possible care not a rushed 20 minutes! Be aware that your recovery will depend on the amount of time you spend on it.


In the private sector you have the opportunity to see a clinician who is a specialist in their field. For example: as a runner, a specialist in running injuries can be extremely valuable as they understand the demands of your sport and how important it is to you. If you opt to have surgery on your spine you are not going to see a ‘general surgeon’ so why would this be different when you choose your physiotherapist.


To shorten waiting lists a class- based structure can often be used on the NHS. Though these can be very efficient and effective some patients find this quite frustrating and desire the more personal approach. One to one sessions ensure focused treatment according to your specific needs and goals. Being able to talk through your fears and concerns with your therapist is also a very important part of your recovery. At Davina Sherwood physiotherapy I always encourage my patients to stay in touch with us throughout their treatment programme, not just during sessions but between them as well. An email or phone call when you are unsure what to do can be all that is required to give some reassurance. Furthermore, it ensures better compliance with the treatment programme and thus better outcomes.


Recovering from an injury is not always straight forward. There can be set- backs due to a repeat injury, other illness or simply due to the other commitments you have in your life. Physiotherapy sessions sometimes need to be cancelled and rearranged and on the NHS this can leave weeks between your treatments or even restrict how many you have. At the end of your ‘course of treatment’ you are then expected to manage independently. So, what happens if the pain returns? What happens if you forget which exercises to do? What happens if you can’t return to your desired level of activity? Do you simply have to go through the whole process of making an appointment again?

At Davina Sherwood Physiotherapy we do aim for you to complete your treatment armed with all the necessary tools to manage things independently but we recognise that in some circumstances, new injuries occur or we return to old habits and symptoms return. Being able to pop back to see the same friendly clinician whenever you wish is hugely valuable.


Physiotherapy can involve different treatment techniques to settle pain, restore range of movement, stability and strength. Time restrictions on the NHS can leave therapists limited to providing advice or simply giving out a sheet of exercises for you to do at home. Functional rehabilitation is one of the main specialities at Davina Sherwood Physiotherapy but we still see the benefit in using soft tissue techniques, joint mobilisations and acupuncture etc in settling pain and assisting recovery. A combined approach will result in best outcomes.


If you get pain when you run a physiotherapist will need to look at you running. If your shoulder hurts when you do an overhead press then assessment of your over head press is a must. Access to a gym, use of video analysis and provision of good quality home exercise programmes that are easy to understand and accessible all compliment your treatment and provide you with the best service needed to recover from injury and return to your sport better than before.


When attending for your first physiotherapy appointment the most crucial first step is obtaining a diagnosis. This may require further investigation in the form of imaging. During your treatment programme other specialities may also be required e.g. massage therapists, podiatrists, dietician. Recommendations and close inter-referral patterns within the private sector can avoid you battling the appointment system and/ or waiting months for these service on the NHS.


Pain can affect us in many ways. Physiotherapy will target the physical effects of injury but should also involve support, advice and guidance on how to cope with it mentally. There will be ups and downs and being able to rely on someone to get you back to your goals is what you deserve.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][vc_column_text]The NHS offers a fantastic service and I do not mean to write this blog as a means of criticism. However, there are ever increasing pressures on the service and staff alike and we all desire and deserve the best possible recovery from injury and illness. You may have already completed your physiotherapy sessions on the NHS and are still struggling with pain. You may be waiting for your appointment to come through the post and are desperate to have some help. If you are struggling with your recovery and wish to talk through the problems you are having drop us an email or give us a call. A free 15 minute discussion is offered and can make you aware of the services available to you.


Davina Sherwood

Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist