What to do ... NHS or private physiotherapy, or both?
Choosing to go privately will allow you to choose a specific physiotherapist to treat your child and give you more flexibility regarding the timing of appointments. You may want to choose a physiotherapist who has specific experience with your child’s condition. You may have a specific physiotherapy intervention that you wish your child to have e.g. Bobath, Vojta, Treadmill Training. Within the private sector you can make these choices.
Physiotherapists in the NHS and private sector actively strive to work together to address the needs of any child they are both treating to ensure the best outcome for your child. You may be concerned about your NHS and private therapists liaising with each other, but having two therapists working together is usually better than having them work separately! There is a guidance document called Working Together which promotes good working practice.
If you choose to have private physiotherapy this should not impact on your NHS provision. A physiotherapist cannot simply stop NHS provision because you are accessing private physiotherapy. Communication between the two therapists enables them to discuss the needs of your child, plan the provision needed and decide how each can best meet these needs.
Information to consider about cost and payments
Children’s physiotherapists do not all charge the same ... charges will be based upon the clinician’s experience, area of the country they are working in and the field that they specialise in. Charges may also vary according to the nature of the intervention and if treatments are delegated to more junior members of staff or therapy assistants.
Charges will be dependent on the length of the treatment session. As a rough guide, you may be charged between £70 - £150 per hour.
You should also be aware that you will be charged for administration time ... including emails, phone calls, attendance at multi-professional meetings, liaison with other professionals, writing reports & programmes ... and for the physiotherapist's travelling time and costs (where applicable).
Assessments and reports for medico-legal work including tribunals, the writing of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) or attending court will incur higher charges.
If your child has private health cover you will need to check whether your child's condition is covered in their policy, as many paediatric conditions will not be covered by health insurance. You will also need to check what treatments the insurance covers before commencing treatment, as you will be liable for paying for sessions if your insurance provider does not pay.
Ensure that the physiotherapist clarifies all of their charges before you start treatment Most will have a terms & conditions document that will state their charges for everything and also how they will bill you.
Private physiotherapy - asking the right questions to find the right therapist for you and your child
The directory listings will show you what conditions each physiotherapist treats, what treatments / interventions they use and whether they offer treatments in a variety of locations.
However, you will want to ask additional questions to ensure you find a physiotherapist with the best experience to meet your child's needs ... we suggest that where possible you make contact with more than one physiotherapist and compare their experience & the information given.
You may wish to ask the following questions ...
Q - My child has <insert condition> ... what is your experience in this area or with this age group?
It is essential to find the physiotherapist who has the right experience for your child.
Q - Where can you see my child?
Some physiotherapists will carry out appointments in their own clinic / practice. Many families and children prefer to be seen in environments that are familiar to them - this could be in their own home or educational setting. Treatments may also take place at: children’s centres, charities, gymnasiums, soft play areas, hydrotherapy pools, sports facilities, rehabilitation centres, riding stables (for hippotherapy). Therapy may be carried out individually or in group sessions.
You should discuss with the physiotherapist what is possible and where it is best for your child to be seen.
Q - When and how soon can I have an appointment?
You will need to determine if the physiotherapist is able to schedule appointments that suit your needs.
Q - Can you confirm that you are registered with the HCPC?
All physiotherapists practicing in the UK must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council - you can check HCPC registration at: https://www.hcpc-uk.org
Q - What are your charges and how will I be charged? Do you have a Terms and Conditions document?
Ensure that you are fully aware of what you will be charged and what additional costs may be incurred (e.g. reports, administration, travel, etc.) before committing to treatments (see above)
Check whether you will be expected to pay on the day (cash / credit card) or whether you will be invoiced for payment afterwards.
Q - Do you have a DBS check and can I see a copy?
Children's Physiotherapists are subject to enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), you are entitled to see evidence of their DBS clearance.
Q - Are they happy to have an initial meeting?
Some therapists will meet with you and your child to discuss your needs before you agree any intervention. It is an opportunity for you and the physiotherapist to discuss therapy aims, and for you and your child to decide if you will get on with the therapist. Ask if there would be a charge for this.
Q - Will they work with your child's NHS physiotherapist?
Communication between your child's NHS and private physiotherapists enables them to discuss the needs of your child, plan the provision needed and decide how each can best meet these needs. It is important that you discuss this with the physiotherapist, as your consent will be required for them to liaise with others involved in your child's care.
Private Physiotherapy - Frequently Asked Questions
Q - Do I have to attend my child’s sessions or can he go on his own after school?
It will depend on the age of your child and their physiotherapy needs. Most physiotherapists prefer an adult to be present in sessions at all times for safeguarding, but you can discuss this with your physiotherapist who will guide you according to the practice policy.
Q - Will my physiotherapist be insured?
All physiotherapists who are members of the CSP will have professional indemnity insurance. Some clinics will also have additional public liability insurance.
Q - My child needs an EHCP, can my private physiotherapist write the report for me?
You will need to check with the Local Education Authority (LEA) to see if they will accept the report written by your private physiotherapist or if they will only accept one from an NHS physiotherapist. If there is significant discrepancy it would be helpful for the therapists to work together to find an agreed provision. Should more than one physiotherapist work with your child, regardless of whether they work within the NHS or they practice independently, it is strongly encouraged and considered ‘good practice’ that they are given permission by you to liaise with each other and to work collaboratively.
Q - My child needs physiotherapy in school, as it is on his EHCP. Can his private physiotherapist provide this?
If the parent holds the budget for therapy provision you can choose who provides the therapy for your child. If the Local Authority cannot meet the needs for your child, it is possible for them to employ your private physiotherapist to fulfil the recommendations of the EHCP.
Q - My child has a private physiotherapist but does not get on with him/her. Is it ok to find somebody else?
Yes of course, you are free to change if you wish.
Q - Will the private physiotherapist provide all the equipment and toys if he/she comes to my house or will I have to buy them?
This will depend on the needs of your child. It is sometimes useful for families to buy some specific toys / equipment so that they can be used throughout the week with your child and not just in physiotherapy sessions. Your physiotherapist will discuss this with you. Physiotherapists usually carry a range of toys with them for each session.
Q - How do I make a complaint?
Initially contact the physiotherapist who should have a compliment and complaints policy and will be able to deal with your concern.
All physiotherapists are regulated by HCPC & they can be contacted on www.hcpc-uk.org