Direct access and self-referral

What is direct access and self-referral?

The terms direct access and self-referral mean people are able to refer themselves to a physiotherapist without having to see anyone else first, or without being told to refer themselves by another health professional. The extent to which people can self-refer to a physiotherapist varies from country to country.

In some countries, a person may only receive care or treatment from a physiotherapist if they have been referred by a doctor. This is costly to the health care system and can create a delay in the person receiving care or treatment. Sometimes a doctor may not be aware of how contemporary physiotherapy can help people and may suggest an inappropriate treatment. This approach also fails to recognise the autonomy of the physiotherapy profession. 

World Physiotherapy believe it should be possible for people to be able to go directly to a physiotherapist to receive care or treatment – without having to get a referral from a doctor. We have worked with our member organisations in a number of countries to give people direct access to physiotherapy.

We were able to draw on World Physiotherapy's resources and materials to make our views on direct access known to central government, key politicians and health officials.
Gerty Lund, Norwegian Physiotherapist Association directorTweet this
We needed to change the mindset of the public and the government about how direct access would benefit our society. World Physiotherapy supported us.
Suh-Fang Jeng, World Physiotherapy’s Asia Western Pacific region chairTweet this

Find out more about our advocacy for direct access