Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Physiotherapy Business in the United Kingdom
If you’re a physiotherapist and you’ve always had this idea of starting your own business, now is the right time. Starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom entails working hard and doing a lot of learning. A private practice owner is different from working in practice. You’ll have to put in longer working hours and begin thinking of yourself as a business owner and therapist at the same time.
Here’s a guide on starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom that you can follow!
In the UK alone, we have approximately 55,000 state-registered physiotherapists majority of whom are employed in the NHS. Around 4,500 work in private practice. The Health and Care Professions Council is the body in charge of regulating the sector by ensuring the well-being of patients.
Some patients may choose private practice rather than an NHS physiotherapist for various reasons, including:
- Their GP has denied them an NHS referral.
- Not ready to wait to see an NHS physiotherapist. According to CSP research, the waiting time for physiotherapy is nearly twelve weeks, with six months longer for individual trust.
- Experience long-term problems and opt to see the same practitioner, which the NHS might not provide.
The increasing number of waiting times has led to more opportunities for private practice. Consequently, the mounting pressure on private practices from increasing NHS out-patients physiotherapy services has led to the self-referral model. This model allows patients to bypass the customary GP referral route. The relevant NHS physiotherapy department receives the patient’s self-referral form; the patient is put on a waiting list and contacted directly. This is common to patients who have long-time conditions and understand the type of therapy they require.
Type of Private Practice
Within the private sector, a number of physiotherapists may decide to specialize, while others may opt for a general physiotherapy practice. On each of the options, it comes with benefits—a specialist practice can easily target its customers, whereas a generalist may have a more extensive potential customer base.
The CSP is the primary professional association for the physiotherapy sector for both NHS and private. Some of the benefits of membership in the society are frontline journals, favorable insurance rates, and business advice.
Business Registration Process
Starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom may not be the right choice for everyone. Succeeding in one means you must have experienced and well-trained staff.
Let’s delve into some of the things you need to do to get started.
Define Your Practice
Right before you think about going into private practice as a physiotherapist, you need to know what you’re working towards. It requires you to clarify your business plan by researching the present market in your area, then zero down the niche to align with the opportunities you’ve identified.
Research Your Market
Most physiotherapy businesses would be within the local area so that patients wouldn’t have to travel long distances for your services. Therefore, when you’re doing your market research, you need to assess your target market and competitors.
Pay attention to finding out about the following:
- How many direct competitors are there?
- The period the business has been operating
- How the businesses price their services
- What structure are their businesses?
Decide on the Type of Niche
When you have an idea of the people in the community that would benefit from your services and the niches covered by competitors, you now have to identify your niche. You could go from pediatrics to geriatric patients. Again, remember to consider which types of clients you most enjoy working with. Identifying your preferred niche will help you set your practice up for growth and, thereby, begin reaching out.
Setting Up Your Practice
Before setting up your practice, you can seek some legal advice, secure a location, and get your paperwork ready. You have to get the right equipment and furniture, staff, before going ahead.
- Get to Understand Legal Implications: it is essential to under the legal requirements within your area of operation. Understand the legal liabilities that constitute starting a physiotherapy clinic and how to repay yourself.
- Get the Proper Practice Location: before rolling out, you must know how much you can afford for an office space. Begin researching on the possible options within your area and match your budget and put consideration in the following:
- Parking space, size of the space, rental structure.
Register Your Physiotherapy Business
When it comes to getting your business registered, it may be overwhelming, especially when it involves paperwork and requirements. You can opt to look for a corporate service provider in the United Kingdom such as 3E Accounting to help you jumpstart the registration process. Such companies will help you in the following:
- Complete and register your business name;
- Guarantee that you have an up-to-date therapist license
- Make tax number application
A sole practitioner may skip this step, but if you want to impact the health professional, you can register as a company where you have administration staff. Check out a guide to company registration on the government website.
- Other Therapist: at the back of your mind, you might have other therapists that would want to join your practice. Again, you have the idea of starting a multi-disciplinary team that would include massage therapists, occupational therapists, among others.
- Office Staff: having an office manager or receptionist may aid in creating a professional atmosphere. By maintaining that first impression of your practice is an added advantage.
Develop Your Market Strategy
Before starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom, you must have a marketing strategy that aligns with your business plan. Your focus before company incorporation as a businessman would be trying to attract and retain clients that require your services. Getting your business know out there will involve several things, including:
- Developing a website to showcase the services that you offer.
- Creating social media to have an online presence
- Setting your business on Google My Business (GMB) directories
Conducting Your Practice Effectively
For you to run your physiotherapy business effectively, you must choose practice management software. This will form the backbone of the day-to-day running of your practice. There is software available in the market, ensuring it has an appointment calendar, automatic appointment reminders, client management, and payment processing, among others.
Regardless of your level of experience, working as a physiotherapist means accidents are inevitable. We’ve heard the allegation that treatment caused more injury or a patient hurting themselves after tripping over an exercise aid. Again, a situation where there is damage to a costly therapy table that would see significant disruption to your business. However, having physiotherapy insurance will save you from all these eventualities. This insurance policy covers the cost of defending your business from property damages and allegations from clients.
Employer’s liability insurance covers your business against claims for injury or illness arising from employees.
For you to make a reasonable profit margin, you must get your fees right. To determine the going rate for treatment within your area, you can contact established practices or search their websites. You will have a good idea of the fee levels in the market.
Licenses, Permits, and Regulations
Starting as professional physiotherapy means you possess the right skills and know your work ethic. However, you have to understand some of the legislation that affects your business comprehensively.
According to the rules and legislation, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) must register physiotherapists, and the license is renewable every two years.
When starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom, some local authorities may need you to license your practice. Subsequently, you’ll need to acquire planning permission for your practice, especially if there is a change of use.
You will be keeping patients’ records; you may also register as a data user with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Check out the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) website for more information on responsibilities under the Data Protection Act. This will include guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation plus additional protection for personal data.
Rule of Professional Conduct
As a physiotherapist, you must meet the standards set by the HCPC. You can check the standards about performance, conduct, and ethics. Physiotherapists under the CSP must observe the ‘Code of Professional Values and Behaviour.’ The rules cover the entire different areas of practice. If you’re a member of the Society, you have the right to use the title ‘chartered physiotherapist.’
If you need assistance in starting a physiotherapy business in the United Kingdom, you can contact 3E Accounting.