Working in the UK as a Physiotherapist

A few days ago, we featured information for occupational therapists on how to get around working in the UK. Today, we are providing valuable information from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) which may be useful for physical therapists (or physiotherapists) who are interested to practice in the UK.

Registration in the UK

All physiotherapists practising in the United Kingdom, including applicants from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA), are required by law to be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC).

Applications for registration must be made on the official application forms. Download the forms from the HPC website or get it from their international registration department:

International Registration Team
The Health Professions Council (HPC)
184 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4BU
tel +44 (0)20 7840 9804 or Lo-Call 0845 3004720 (UK residents only)
fax +44 (0)20 7840 9803
email: (state ‘physiotherapy’ in the subject email )

Registration confers the legal right to practice and to use the protected titles ‘physiotherapist’ and ‘physical therapist’. It is a criminal offence to practice using these titles, without HPC registration.

The HPC and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

The HPC and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) are separate organisations with different functions.

The Health Professions Council
The Health Professions Council is an independent legal body with responsibility for registration of physiotherapists and other allied health professions. It deals with standards of education and training; conduct, performance, and ethics; fitness to practise; and protection of the public. Contact the HPC to register as a practising physiotherapist in the UK.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s physiotherapists, assistants and students. It ensures that UK physiotherapists are recognised, respected and rewarded, for their essential contribution to health and social care. Contact the CSP for advice about finding a period of adaptation, joining the Society and member benefits.

HPC standards

Your attention is drawn to important information on the HPC Website which plays a central role in how you gain admission to, and remain on the register. Please read carefully the:

  • Standards of proficiency – for Physiotherapists
  • Standards of conduct, performance and ethics
  • The guidance notes for international applicants
  • Language competence requirements

Language competence
Physiotherapists must have reached a standard equivalent to average academic level 7 of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with no element below 6.5, OR a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600 (equivalent computerised test score 250).

The HPC recognises other standards of English proficiency, for full details please read the guidance notes for International applicants found on the HPC website (

Applicants from Member Countries of the European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) includes all member countries of the European Union, plus Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland. EEA applicants must have acquired rights to EU nationality (citizenship) and hold a legal licence to practice in their home state. The HPC will determine the status of acquired rights if migrants present with complex nationality issues or have trained in a third country.

Applications from these countries will be treated in the same way according to EEC Directives governing migration. Whilst there is no automatic recognition of professional qualifications or the automatic right to practise physiotherapy in any member state, all applicants have a right to be considered.

The General Directive 89/48/EEC provides for mutual recognition of higher educational diplomas awarded on completion of professional education at university level or equivalent, of at least three years (or part time equivalent). Directive 92/51/EEC allows physiotherapists who have completed a two-year diploma course to be considered.

An applicant’s qualifying education should broadly correspond with the UK BSc Honours degree programme in terms of academic equivalence and scope of study. Applicants are assessed against the HPC’s benchmark standards of proficiency expected of a newly qualified UK-trained physiotherapist. The assessment examines the whole range of skills and knowledge required.

Outcome of the registration process for all applicants

  • Acceptance onto the register
  • Rejection with a copy of the assessment record showing where HPC identified shortfalls in training/education/experience.
  • Period of Adaptation (EEA only). For example a further course of study, or a period of supervised clinical practice which will enable the standards of competence to be met. The HPC may stipulate a time frame for completion.
  • Request for further verification or invitation to attend a Test of Competence based on the standards of proficiency

The applicant is responsible for arranging adaptation and meeting the cost. The CSP can only offer general advice. Call the Society and ask for information paper PA10b – Periods of Adaptation.

Periods of adaptation

EEA applicants
If you are required by the HPC to make good identified shortfalls you will be asked to undertake a period of adaptation. The elements that need to be included, and how long it might take, will be outlined by the HPC in a letter.

Non-EEA applicants
If shortfalls have been identified by the HPC you will not be given a period of adaptation as you are not eligible under UK law. You will receive a different type of assessment decision letter which highlights shortfalls relating to the HPC’s standards of proficiency. However, this does not stop you from using the assessment decision issued by HPC to construct you own programme to rectify shortfalls.

All applicants can take steps to meet the standards of proficiency by:

  • Finding a UK hospital willing to provide clinical supervision and discussing your educational needs with the physiotherapy manager who will help you to create specific learning objectives
  • Following a further course of study

Periods of adaptation of longer than 4 to 6 weeks may best be undertaken by following a course. For further details contact:

Miss Alison Skinner BA MCSP DipTP
UCL Graduate Physiotherapy Studies
UCL MSc School of Health and Human Performance
Level 2 South, Holborn Union Building
Archway Campus
Highgate Hill
London N19 3U

tel: 020 7288 3185
email: (20 places annually)

Dr. Pennie A. Roberts
Head, School of Physiotherapy
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9WL

tel: 0161 276 4110
fax: 0161 276 8711

For information on jobs and courses in London see the South East London Workforce Development Confederations website (SELWDC):

Becoming a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (MCSP)

All physiotherapists who have obtained HPC registration are eligible to apply for membership of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Application forms are available from the Enquiry Handling Unit, as is advice on the right membership category.

  • Membership benefits for physiotherapists living and working in the UK include:
  • The right to use the protected title ‘Chartered Physiotherapist’ and the letters MCSP.
  • Advice and help from the Society on professional, educational and trade union matters.
  • Receipt of the Society’s quarterly scientific journal ‘Physiotherapy’, fortnightly news magazine ‘Frontline’ and annual report.
  • Full access to the Society’s extensive website and forthcoming (2005) networking and communication system linking physiotherapists around their shared interests
  • The right to attend the Society’s conferences and courses.
  • The right to vote on Society policy
  • The right to attend local CSP branch meetings and courses.
  • Professional liability insurance cover: see information paper PA32 ‘Chartered Physiotherapists and Insurance’

Work permits

Before entering the United Kingdom to work as a physiotherapist you must have a work permit unless you are :

  • A United Kingdom passport holder
  • A national of a Member State of the European Union (EU)
  • A Commonwealth citizens with entry clearance. Prior application must be made to the British diplomatic representative in your country of residence.

The Society cannot answer questions about work permits. The hospital or workplace offering you employment must apply for a work permit on your behalf to:

Work Permits (UK)
Immigration and Nationality Directorate
Home Office
Level 5, Moorfoot
Sheffield S1 4PQ

tel: 0114 259 4074 (9am – 5.30pm)

It is not advisable to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor in the expectation that permission to work can be obtained afterwards. There is no guarantee that permission will be granted in such circumstances.

Entry clearance to the UK

Check with the nearest British High Commission or Consulate about visa requirements.

Working holidaymaker visa scheme
Commonwealth citizens wishing to take a working holiday in the UK can work as physiotherapists for up to two years. You must apply whilst still in your home country. You will qualify if:

  • You are a Commonwealth citizen aged between 17 and 30
  • You have a valid UK entry clearance before you arrive
  • You want to come to the UK for work and travel for a maximum period of two years (time spent outside the UK during this period counts towards the two year maximum)
  • You are single or married to a person who also qualifies as a working holidaymaker and intend to take a working holiday together
  • You have no dependent children over five years of age who will be accompanying you on your working holiday
  • You have independent means of financial support
  • You do not have any commitments which require a regular salary

You may do any type of work, including unpaid voluntary work that meets the terms of the National Minimum Wage exemption for voluntary workers. After one year you may apply for a full work permit subject to certain criteria. Visit these websites for more information:

Finding a job

The UK is short of physiotherapists so the government is encouraging non-UK trained physiotherapists to come to the UK. Information about working in the UK as part of the EU can be found on the eures website.

CSP information
The Society does not run an employment bureau. All physiotherapy jobs are advertised in the Society’s fortnightly magazine ‘Frontline’. The same jobs are also advertised online on this website. You can buy single copies of Frontline even if you are not a member of the Society: call the Enquiry Handling Unit on +44 (0)20 7306 6666.

Other places to look for job adverts including those in education:

Public sector jobs
For a job in the National Health Service (NHS) apply to the Human Resources Department of the employing Health Authority or Trust. They may also know of other vacancies in the area. You can also visit the NHS careers website. If you want a temporary locum job you can leave your personal details and where you want to work on the NHS professionals website. You will be contacted when a job becomes available.

Salaries and working hours in the National Health Service
The majority of physiotherapists who practice in the UK do so within the National Health Service (public sector). Physiotherapists employed in the public sector are employed on a national contract that sets their pay, grading and basic conditions of service such as annual leave, sick pay, days of paid leave and hours of work. There are 4 broad clinical grades for state registered physiotherapists and 3 broad clinical grades for physiotherapy aids and assistant staff.

Most experienced clinical physiotherapists will be in either band 6 or band 7. The pay ranges for these bands between 1st April 2005 and 31st March 2006 are:
Band 6: £22,328 – £30,247
Band 7: £26,948 – £35,527

Bands have between 6 to 9 incremental points, progression from one incremental point to another within the same pay band is automatic, except at two fixed points, one at the top and one at the bottom of the band. At these fixed points an employee is expected to demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge to do their job. The pay scales are nationally up-rated every year.

There are additional payments made to physiotherapists working in the London area and in some cases there will be supplements paid to physiotherapists working in regions of the UK that have specific recruitment difficulties.

The normal working week in NHS hospitals is 36 hours. For a check on the comparable cost of living in the UK visit the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website ( It has a section called ‘Living and Working in the UK’.

Private work
There are a growing number of private hospitals, clinics, and individual private practices throughout the country. Jobs in the private sector are advertised in ‘Frontline’, on the Society’s web site and through agencies. The CSP has an occupational interest group, the Organisation of Chartered Physiotherapists in Private Practice (OCPPP), which can also give advice. They can be contacted 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday via:

Administrative Assistant
Cedar House
Bell Plantation
Watling Street
Northants NN12 6HN

tel: 01327 354 441
fax: 01327 354 476

Working on a student visa
If you are a physiotherapist following a course of study in the UK you can work up to 20 hours per week provided that you are studying full time (15 hours per week). During the holidays you are allowed to work 40 hours per week. Check the official Home Office website for details (

Using a recruitment agency
There are several recruitment agencies that will help you find a locum (short term) or a longer-term job in either the public or private sector. Several advertise in ‘Frontline’. The Society cannot endorse particular agencies. Choose one that meets the Department of Health code of good practice on the DH website ( On the site, use the linked ‘I’ in the A-Z index for more information on International Recruitment.

International recruitment and good practice

The Department of Health Code of Practice
The Department of Health has a Code of Practice for NHS Employers (October 2004) involved in the international recruitment of healthcare professionals which can be found on the DH website by typing ‘international recruitment’ into the search box. Here are some important extracts:


  • If you are offered an interview, travel arrangements should be discussed
  • NHS employers should interview you in person via a properly constituted selection panel and should not rely solely on a telephone interview.
  • NHS employers should provide you (either directly or via the agency) with the job description for the specific post; the application package with the person specification; the location of the post; the salary and grading structure of the post; and the training and education opportunities.
  • NHS employers should include information about their local community, access to public services, established social networks, available cultural support and local places of worship.

Induction and support
If you are appointed your induction should include:

  • All aspects of cultural awareness as a two way learning process.
  • Issues relating to accommodation, pay, opening a bank account, telephoning home, registering with a General Practitioner (family doctor) and Dentist, obtaining a national Insurance number, providing information about the CSP’s trade union support (CSP members).
  • Introduce you to social and cultural networks – perhaps via a ‘buddy” system (where possible from a similar cultural background) if you think this would help you.

The NHS Trust, or other healthcare facility in which you work will provide corporate induction. The physiotherapy manager and your colleagues will provide departmental induction. Some aspects of induction may cover practice issues with which you are already familiar from experience in your home country. Other aspects may be very different. Discussing the differences and similarities will deepen mutual understanding. A list of possible topics for departmental induction follows:

Terms and conditions

  • Hours of work and annual leave
  • Notification of absence/sickness/li>

Working arrangements

  • Use of office systems and equipment
  • Clinical governance/Quality management
  • Dress code
  • Security
  • Staff/team meetings

Health and safety

  • Fire safety
  • Risk assessment
  • Incident reporting
  • Work station assessment
  • Infection control
  • Manual handling/lifting
  • Sharps injuries
  • First aid
  • Occupational heath
  • Safe working practices – for example when working alone
  • Diversity and equal opportunities

Policies and procedures

  • Equalities and diversity
  • Disciplinary and grievance
  • Harassment and bullying
  • Alcohol and smoking
  • Reporting the unsafe/unsatisfactory practice of others (whistle blowing)
  • Confidentiality
  • Data protection and use of electronic patient records
  • Standards if business conduct

Your individual development and performance
Your manager should:

  • Discuss your job as it related to service objectives
  • Arrange observation periods or visits as appropriate
  • Once you have begin the job, arrange a review of your progress with induction

Continuing professional development

All CSP members are obliged to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as part of the rules of professional conduct. All employees should have equal access to CPD opportunities. If you are planning to work longer term in the UK, contact the Learning and Development function of the CSP for advice. A professional portfolio is available to help you record your learning and reflect on your practice.

Many courses and conferences are advertised in ‘Frontline’ and on the Society’s website which cover a wide variety of specialities. From June 2005 the HPC will require evidence of your CPD before you can be re-registered. This will be a mandatory requirement.

Information for interviews

If you are going for a job interview you need to know about healthcare in the UK and the current issues for profession. CSP information papers available on this website include the following useful topics:

  • Scope of Practice
  • the delegation of tasks to physiotherapy assistants
  • Evidence Based Practice
  • Clinical Governance
  • National Service Frameworks
  • Continuing Professional Development.

Other sources of information

A Home Office Guide to Working in the UK – website:

NHS 50th Anniversary – A history of the NHS (1998) – see the publications and statistics section of the DH website:

CSP contacts
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
14 Bedford Row
London WC1R 4ED
tel +44 (0)20 7306 6666
fax +44 (0)207 306 6611

Liz Carrington MCSP, international development adviser (Member Networks and Relations)

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6 thoughts on “Working in the UK as a Physiotherapist”

  1. Right decision on Working in the UK as a Physiotherapist. Which may be useful for physical therapists or physiotherapists who are interested to practice in the UK. Thanks for sharing this article.

    1. Hi sir
      I am novlyn bareetto a physiotherapist ,completed my Masters in Physiotherapy in Adult Neurology .I wish it work in the UK.I am currently in India working as a assistant professor ,and also working on getting my permanent residency on UK
      I need your advice on this matter

      thanking you
      Novlyn Barretto

  2. Hi, I am an international physiotherapist living in London from last one year. I know that I need to get register with HPC to work in UK and to register I need 7 Bands (No element less than 6.5). I have taken IELTS 3 times in last year. Overall score is always above 7 but loosing it everytime because of half band in reading or writing. I have almost given up now. Is there any other way to register? I mean is their any courses available I can do to be eligible for HPC. I know I can go for masters degree but fees is too high for international students. I am looking for any cheaper option. Thank in advance.

  3. This is really very informative post for the information for occupational therapists on how to get around working in the UK. They are providing valuable information from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) which may be useful for physical therapists (or physiotherapists) who are interested to practice in the UK.

  4. Hi all, I am a physiotherapist with four years of work experience in Ethiopia. By now i like to work in UK but i do not meet TOFEL or IELTS . Is it possible with out language test ? please help . Thank you. please contact mewith–

  5. very informative.i am from india and i intend to work in the information is useful for me to find a job there.thankyou for the useful information.

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