A Word About …’I Can’t Afford Care’

It was 1998 when I first graduated from the Anglo European College of Chiropractic. As a first year graduate, I was keen to make an impression –make my mark on the world of back pain. It was exciting (and still is today) seeing new patients with varying degrees of back pain or other joint issues. I knew I was in the right profession.

Now before continuing I hasten to add a little of what happens in a chiropractic consultation with me to add context for what I am going to talk about further in this week’s blog.

  1. Your initial consultation will be a case history (why are you here). This includes going through particulars of your medical history to rule out other causes.
  2. You get an examination with specific tests designed at giving me the practitioner an initial diagnosis and whether chiropractic care is appropriate for your condition.
  3. If you are a good candidate for care, I’ll explain the problem and go through the risks versus benefits. I will always give you an approximate idea of the number of treatments that you will require.


It was 6-months into my professional career I came across my first ‘I would like to have treatment, but I can’t afford care’. No problems. I was working as an associate within a practice and we had guidelines for those patients who needed care, but just couldn’t afford the costs. In effect, we had a ‘discount rate’. I offered the discounted rate to this patient. She was glad of the offer and commenced care.

Your suffering from back pain and you need a professional to look at it straight away.

Back pain is the issue, but sometimes it’s not a priority to see things through.

Jump forward two weeks into this particular patients care plan. Treatment four of approximately six treatments estimated. The lady couldn’t make the next appointment because she would be away on holiday – a two week trip to Orlando, Florida, USA !

I learned very quickly in 1998 that it’s not a matter of costs, but of priorities. There are many benefits to receiving private care. You usually get seen far quicker than the NHS, (the current waiting time in Salisbury to see a spinal physiotherapist is 18 weeks), you can usually pick an appointment time that suits you, and, above all, we usually offer a better service – whether that is longer opening hours, text reminders of appointments, even offer of a coffee while you wait.

It was never about affordability of care – but an individual’s ability to prioritise what was important to them.

Either have the treatment, or don’t. That’s the choice. But don’t expect to have treatment and ask me to fund your holiday.