Thoughts on being an Independent Practitioner

Date: 14th July 2014

Posted on: 14-07-2014

Some members indicate they are worried about increasing numbers of members – there are more therapists working independently, more competition and therefore less work to go round.


Here are my thoughts on this.


  • We are aware that there are quite a number of therapists working independently who are not members of ASLTIP. It is our aim to encourage these therapists to join for the reasons I have already outlined.

  • We are aware that there are increasing numbers of therapists who are employed but working in isolation – we would like to encourage these people to join to get support.

  • We are aware that many people are now combining NHS work with private work.


Although our numbers are increasing that doesn’t necessarily mean that the overall numbers of IPs are increasing- it means we are doing our job. Let’s assume the number of IPs is increasing overall. Does that mean that we have to reduce our fees in order to compete in the marketplace. I say no. If you are in private practice, you have to make a profit otherwise you will fail and there is no escaping that fact. So, there is a bottom limit on how much you can charge in order to break even. But you can only keep on ‘break even’ point for so long before you will be forced to make a profit – at some point you will need to buy some resources!


How you set your fees and work out your business model is up to you – you may want lots of clients and lower fees or fewer clients at higher fees – you choose. ‘Competition’ in the area is not a threat it is a positive. Each and every therapist has their own unique skills and talents and no two are alike. It makes you think about what it is you are offering that is unique and it gives the opportunity to really sit up and think. This can only serve to drive up standards. In my experience people don’t necessarily want cheaper – the differences in costs are not going to be huge as otherwise you won’t make a living – they want a good, reliable service and they want to know they are in safe hands.


Thirdly, I know that some people feel uncomfortable charging clients fees when they know they should get it for free on the NHS. My view is this – many of my clients are not paying for their therapy directly – other commissioning bodies are paying for it. Those who are paying directly choose to – they don’t have to. To me, this makes me think very carefully about whether or not I provide good value for money and be very clear about my goals. Surely this is good isn’t?


My feelings are that in the NHS there is less emphasis on these points and hence we have an NHS service that isn’t always providing value for money. The NHS is like any other business – it cannot run at a loss. If it does then services will need to be cut and the services that are more likely to go first are the ones that don’t provide value for money.


So, it is a brave new world but one that offers us the chance to raise our game as a profession and not be afraid to step up to the mark – I don’t think I can get any more metaphors into one sentence so I will take my leave here.


Julie Anstey | Chair | ASLTIP


The views expressed in the blog do not necessarily represent the views of ASLTIP. Publication does not imply endorsement.


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