Can You Get a Chiropractor On the NHS?

Chiropractor On the NHS

Chiropractic care can be a game-changer for people with back pain, stiff joints, or other body aches. But a big question for many is, can you get a chiropractor on the NHS?

Chiropractors are not usually available through the NHS. Patients seeking a chiropractor will need to arrange for this privately. However, some NHS GP practices may refer patients to a chiropractor where they have commissioned chiropractic care services.

Let’s explore if you can get a chiropractor on the NHS, the process, and any other options for those seeking relief. Keep reading to find out how to access the care you need.

The NHS and Chiropractic Services

The NHS provides comprehensive healthcare coverage to all UK residents, and chiropractic services are not typically included in this coverage. Chiropractors are considered private practitioners and are not employed by the NHS.

However, some local NHS GP practices have commissioned chiropractic care, meaning they have arrangements with specific chiropractors to care for their patients. In these cases, the GP can refer their patient to the chiropractor for treatment.

These commissioned services are not available in all areas and usually have strict criteria for eligibility. Patients will need to discuss with their GP if they are eligible for referral to a chiropractor through these arrangements.

Eligibility Criteria for NHS Chiropractic Referrals

Eligibility criteria for getting a chiropractor through NHS referral can differ from one GP practice to another. It generally involves:

  • A thorough assessment by your GP.
  • Evidence of persistent back pain or musculoskeletal issues.
  • Previous attempts at other treatments, like painkillers or physiotherapy, have been without sufficient improvement.

If your GP deems it appropriate, they may initiate a referral for chiropractic services. Remember, this possibility depends on whether your local GP practice has an arrangement with chiropractors. If such a service is not commissioned in your area, your GP could still advise on affordable chiropractic options or alternative treatments.

Furthermore, while waiting for a possible NHS referral, here are short points to consider for reducing discomfort:

  • Maintain a healthy posture at work and home.
  • Perform exercises and stretches designed for back health.
  • Apply heat or cold packs to the affected area for temporary relief.
  • Look into over-the-counter pain relief options, always following the advice from healthcare professionals.

How to Access Chiropractic Treatment Through the NHS?

Access to chiropractic treatment through the NHS can be tricky since such services are typically not standard. Here’s what you can do to explore this option:

Talk to Your GP

Begin by booking an appointment with your GP. Tell them about your symptoms and ask if chiropractic care could help you.


Your GP will assess your condition to see if you might benefit from chiropractic treatment and if it’s available through their practice.


If the service is available and you meet the eligibility criteria, your GP may refer you to an NHS-commissioned chiropractor.

Consider Your Options

If chiropractic care is unavailable on the NHS in your area, ask about other options or ways to manage your symptoms.

What to Do If You Can’t Get NHS Treatment?

If you discover that your local NHS doesn’t provide chiropractic treatment, don’t worry. Here are some tips:

  • Look for Private Chiropractors: Research local private chiropractors. Many offer a free initial consultation.
  • Check Insurance: Some health insurance plans may cover chiropractic care. Check your policy details.
  • Consider Costs: Understand the costs of private treatment and see if the chiropractor offers payment plans that suit your budget.
  • Ask About Experience: When choosing a chiropractor, ask about their qualifications and experience, especially with your specific issues.

By following these steps and considerations, you can navigate the healthcare system and find the right care for your needs, whether through the NHS or privately.

Seeking Chiropractic Care Outside the NHS

Private treatment is viable for those not qualifying for NHS chiropractic care. There are also alternative routes to consider, such as:

  • Chiropractic Colleges: Some chiropractic colleges offer reduced-rate treatments through their student clinics.
  • Community-based Schemes: Some community centres and charities may offer low-cost or free chiropractic care.
  • Employee Benefits: Some companies offer employee benefits that include chiropractic care.
  • Family and Friends: Reach out to friends or family members who have seen a chiropractor, as they may be able to recommend someone reliable.

Ultimately, the key is to explore all options and choose what best suits your needs and budget.

Costs Involved with Private Chiropractic Services

Private chiropractic services can be a great option for those needing immediate attention or not qualifying for NHS coverage. When budgeting for private care, it’s crucial to understand the potential costs.

Here’s a breakdown to guide you:

  • Initial Consultation: Often the first step, this appointment varies in price but typically ranges from £30 to £100.
  • Follow-up Treatments: After the initial assessment, each session may cost between £30 and £60.
  • Treatment Plan: Based on the condition, you might need multiple sessions. Chiropractors will discuss your personalized treatment plan and the expected number of visits.

Remember, prices vary widely, so it’s smart to call ahead and ask about costs and payment options. Some clinics may offer discounts for booking multiple sessions upfront or have sliding scale fees based on your income.

While cost is an important factor, so is the quality of care. Choose a reputable practitioner, even if it means investing more for your health.

Finally, keep an ongoing dialogue with your chiropractor about your treatment plan and financial comfort zone to avoid surprises.

How to Advocate for Chiropractic Treatments within the NHS System?

Knowing what your health plan offers is crucial. Start by reading your NHS benefits booklet or visiting their website.

It’s essential to know the specifics of what treatments are covered and the criteria needed to qualify for them.

Sometimes, services like chiropractic care may be covered under special circumstances or with particular documentation from a GP.

Be Proactive with Your GP

Building a good relationship with your GP can make a difference. Be engaged during your appointments.

Clearly express your interest in exploring chiropractic care and discuss your health condition thoroughly.

GPs can be your best advocates within the NHS system if they understand your concerns and the impact of your condition on your daily life.

Formal Requests and Appeals

If you’re denied chiropractic treatment through the NHS, you can ask why and even appeal the decision. Make sure to submit formal requests in writing and keep copies of all communications. While the process might be lengthy, persistence is key.

Join Support Groups

There are many support groups for individuals with back pain or similar health issues. These groups often share valuable information on navigating the NHS system and might even guide how to advocate for treatments like chiropractic care effectively.

Stay Informed

Healthcare policies can change, so staying informed about the NHS and any updates to treatment coverage is helpful. You can check official NHS communications or talk to healthcare advocacy organizations for the latest information.

By taking these steps, you can empower yourself to work within the NHS system and advocate for the necessary chiropractic care. Remember to communicate, stay informed, and be persistent.

The Future of Chiropractic Care within the National Health Service

While chiropractic care is not currently widely available through the NHS, there are promising developments for its future. Some areas in the UK have begun piloting chiropractic services within their local NHS care systems, with successful outcomes.

As more research and evidence support the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments, it may become a more integrated option within the NHS. Additionally, patient demand for non-invasive and drug-free treatments may drive the inclusion of chiropractic care as a standard treatment option.

Until then, it’s essential to understand your options and advocate for yourself within the current healthcare system. You can find quality chiropractic care that suits your needs and budget with patience, persistence, and proper communication with your healthcare providers.


Can I get chiropractic care through the NHS?

Currently, it is not widely available through the NHS, but some areas have begun to pilot programs that offer chiropractic services.

How much does private chiropractic care cost?

The cost can vary depending on the initial consultation, follow-up treatments, and personalized treatment plan. It is important to research and compare prices before deciding on a clinic.

Can I appeal for chiropractic treatment through the NHS?

You can ask why your request was denied and even appeal the decision. Persistence is key in navigating the system.

Does private health insurance cover chiropractic care?

It depends on your specific insurance plan. Some may cover chiropractic care, while others may not. Be sure to check with your provider for more information.

Final Talk

While accessing chiropractic care via the NHS may not be broadly available, there are still avenues to explore. The landscape is evolving, with some regions trialling the integration of chiropractic services, reflecting a growing acknowledgement of its benefits.

Don’t forget to read our other blog posts for more insights on chiropractic care.

For now, patients must navigate the system equipped with knowledge and perseverance. We encourage you to stay proactive about your healthcare options and continue to advocate for your needs.

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