Patients referred to physiotherapists for NHS treatment in Nottingham will no longer receive hands-on treatment, but will be directed to websites where they learn exercises for themselves.
The Principia Clinical Commissioning Group plans and buys NHS healthcare services in Rushcliffe, Nottingham.
Before January 1 2011 the Principia CCG offered one assessment and up to four treatments for physiotherapy patients, including those who suffer from soft tissue injuries and pains in their back, neck or joints.
But following a service review, physiotherapy from Principia changed from a treatment service to an advice and guidance service. Physiotherapists are no longer allowed to touch patients. Instead, they direct patients to websites and information leaflets where they learn exercises from themselves.
Patients in Rushcliffe are also caped to a maximum of two physiotherapy appointments in a year, and have to visit their GP twice, six weeks apart, to get a physiotherapy referral in the first place.
A spokesman for Principia said that the change in service had not been a cost-cutting measure, and that costs were broadly the same as before.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, which asked all primary care trusts in the country about their services and budget cuts, say that Principia is the only group in England not to offer hands-on treatment to physiotherapy patients.
Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: "They seem to have invented a new form of physiotherapy that no one has heard of do-not-touch physiotherapy."
"Physiotherapists can't actually physically touch you at all under this system. It is deeply unscientific."
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