From the NHS to holistic care: Barnsley physiotherapist’s journey to private practice

Helen Smith a dedicated physiotherapist with over 19 years of NHS experience never imagined she’d become a business owner. Initially hesitant, a shift in circumstances led to her exploring the opportunity.

“I never thought private work would appeal to me,” Helen says. “But I decided to dip my toes in the water and see what it was like.”

Starting small, Helen offered anti-natal classes at a local church once a week. Armed with a portable couch, she also began doing home visits for a few patients. She spread the word through social media and relied on recommendations, all while juggling her full-time NHS job and school-aged children.

As her business grew, Helen needed a dedicated space for her patients. It was too early to invest in her own commercial space, but she found a room at S75 Fitness, run by Business Village tenant Victoria Hudson.

“I’m so grateful to Victoria for giving me an opportunity right at the beginning. Using her treatment room for a couple of days a week was a good stepping stone. It helped me build confidence and to begin taking my business seriously.”

Finding a Home at The Business Village

Helen tending to our very own Kevin, Business Development Manager!

After renting the room for a year, Helen realised The Business Village was a great location for her business. In April 2023, she left the NHS and took a leap of faith to focus solely on private practice. By the following month, she’d found her own treatment room at The Business Village.

“I looked at other commercial spaces but ideally wanted to stay at The Business Village. I spoke to Reception, and the right space became available in May 2023. The location is perfect. It’s on the ground floor and close to the entrance which is good for patients with mobility issues or prams.”

The Business Village has proven to be a great fit for Helen’s practice. It’s a well-known location, close to the hospital, and has plenty of free parking. Her clients often travel

Working from The Business Village is ideal, and I can easily get there after doing the school run. The rent is also affordable, which is especially important as a new business.”

Long-term growth and vision to create a multi-disciplinary practice

Since leaving the NHS behind, Helen’s practice has gone from strength to strength. She now balances home visits, classes, and appointments in her treatment room. Specialising in women’s health and paediatric physiotherapy, Helen fills crucial gap in the market.

“I’m not aware of any other private women’s health or children’s physios in the area. It’s something I specialised in while working at the NHS and enjoy doing, so it makes sense to offer privately. But I also treat other musculoskeletal injuries, and long-term conditions which need ongoing maintenance.”

Helen says that transitioning to self-employment has been a big learning curve. Unlike the NHS where patients came to her, she now has to actively find and attract people. She’s also had to adjust to the fluctuating demand in bookings throughout the year. Because of this, Helen values the advice and tips she’s received from others with business experience.

“So far, patients have come to me via social media and word of mouth. My long-term special needs children have their own networks, which gives valuable referrals. But I’ve also received helpful marketing tips from other Business Village tenants and staff members.”

Looking ahead, Helen has ambitious plans for her business. Her long-term vision is a multi-disciplinary practice. It would bring together allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, podiatrists, and alternative therapy practitioners. She also dreams of having larger premises with her name prominently displayed.

Despite the challenges faced, Helen remains committed to providing high-quality care.

“I want to be happy in what I’m doing, provide a good service, and make my business work,” she says. Her dedication to ethical practices is clear. “I may be too honest for my own good but I can’t justify booking people in for six sessions if they don’t need it.”

This integrity ensures her patients receive the best possible care, tailored to their individual needs.

“One reason I left the NHS is because I didn’t feel happy about the level of service provided. I can offer so much more in an hour’s private session than I ever could in a 20 minute NHS appointment.”

Helen complements her physiotherapy services with other holistic therapies. She’s undertaken extra training, meaning her patients can book appointments for body massage, Indian head massage and Hopi ear candling. It gives them a well-rounded offer of both acute and long-term treatment options.

“I love what I do and don’t regret making the move to private practice. I know I’ll never make millions, but simply want to be happy in my work and provide a good service for my patients.”

Special discount on physiotherapy and holistic treatments for Business Village tenants

Helen is offering Business Village tenants at both Wilthorpe and Cudworth a 10% discount on treatments. Just mention it when you book and make sure you have a valid Business Village ID badge to show.


Phone: 07931 935438


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