Exploring the impact of physio-owned co-operatives

East Midlands Conference Centre

Friday 31 March


Why do we need you?

We need your opinions and your expertise to help us investigate the feasibility of a private physiotherapists’ cooperative. This is a successful business model in many industries where practitioners are both the shareholders of the organisation and suppliers to it.

It could give us more collective strength and a louder voice so we can have an impact on the healthcare marketplace. Cooperatives contribute £37bn each year to the British economy and there are 6,796 independent cooperative businesses across the UK, so we need to thoroughly investigate whether this is a step our members believe could be successful.

Outcomes of the event

We will explore a whole host of areas including:

  • What a self-owned private physiotherapy business entity is
  • Why Physio First thinks that this is something that Physio First members should contemplate now
  • What the first one might look like
  • When the first one is likely to be established
  • Whether you should plan to become involved or not



View our FAQs for more info

  • 95% of delegates used sli.do during the symposium - delegates thought "it was good to see others' thoughts and questions" and it "enhanced audience interactions"
  • 88% of delegates are interested in a Physio First co-operative
  • 80% of delegates found our panel speakers' expertise and knowledge very valuable

"Together we are stronger!"

Once again, “thank you” to all those who attended and contributed to the day. As promised, we will address all of the questions that we did not get to in the “Question Time” section of the day.

Finally, if you do have any other thoughts please do share them with me at general.secretary@physiofirst.org.uk as I would love to hear from you.

Paul Donnelly

"Proud to be a Physio First member - well done!"

Symposium speaker panel

Director of Contracting and Business Development for TAI

Rich Katz

Rich is an Executive Partner with Therapeutic Associates (TAI) a company that dates back 64 years and owns and operates 85 therapy locations across the western United States.  Rich is the Director of Contracting and Business Development for TAI and serves as the Executive Director for Northwest Rehab Alliance (NWRA). NWRA is a network of 350 therapy locations serving Oregon, Washington, and Idaho in the United States. NWRA features over 1200 physical and occupational therapists that serve the health insurers in the NW region of the country, along with a variety of business support services that benefit both the health plans and the therapy practices that are part of his network. 

Rich brings close to 30 years of health plan negotiating, contracting, marketing and business development experience to our conference and will be offering his expertise during his education day course.  He hopes to contrast the delivery systems in the UK and the US in a way that may help PhysioFirst members envision their future as providers of rehabilitation services in our country.  He also hopes to share his history of creating a network of providers so our members can understand what was found to be successful and to know what failed. Finally, he will offer answers to questions about strategy and tactics he has used to create an effective therapy network for his members and a valuable relationship for the health insurers that have come to rely on TAI and NWRA.

You can find out more about Therapeutic Associates here and the NWRA here

Founder of Painless Practice

James Butler

James Butler founded Painless Practice, which offers business support to physiotherapists through an email newsletter, workshops and direct support and coaching.  Prior to working in this field, James built a successful business in the environment sector and since 2002 he has worked on helping business owners, especially therapists, to build better practices.  He has worked with hundreds of clients, over thousands of hours in dozens of sectors.  He has written three books on practice development and speaks widely on the topic.  He has worked on programmes for business owners at both Cranfield School of Management and Cass Business School.

He lectured at our 2015 Soft Tissue annual conference on 'tips for building a practice that is resilient to changes in the current healthcare market' and received outstanding feedback.

You can find out more about James and his Painless Practice team here, and find out how to join their courses. More information can be found on our events page

Director of Blue Zinc

Kyle Lunn

Blue Zinc IT is a technology company specialising in innovative solutions for the rehabilitation industry, primarily MSK. They produce an integrated product suite to automate and improve the MSK industry, primarily through their flagship practice management systems, TM2 and TM3.

In 2003, Kyle and his business partner, Ronnie Johnston, purchased the rights to an aging practice management system, Time Machine, together with around 50 paying customers.

In consultation with those customers, and by using the latest technology, Blue Zinc completely re-built the system from the ground up, and TM2 was born. TM2 revolutionised the MSK sector with innovative solutions for running clinics such as specialised clinical records, online appointment booking and off site data hosting. TM2 was seen as the most developed system on the market, until TM3 came along, which is set to transform how clinics are managed and how clinicians work. In addition to TM3, Blue Zinc have launched solutions to transform the management of patient referrals across the industry for the benefit of clinics and patients alike.


General Secretary

Paul Donnelly

Paul has been General Secretary of Physio First for more than 15 years. His role involves acting as advisor to our executive committee and liaising closely with our Chairman to monitor our members’ and Physio First’s marketplace environments.


Paul’s role as General Secretary could more accurately be entitled “chameleon”, so varied has it been over his 15 years with Physio First. The consistent element has always been as close advisor to our executive committee with, and through our Chairman. A solicitor by profession and a litigator by specialism, the role of advisor has never been a foreign one to Paul – as he says: “Being a non-voting member of our executive is exactly the same as representing my clients. It is always their case I am putting forward, not mine.”


In 2016 his role changed again to include leading upon the investigation and if feasible the establishment of the first private physiotherapists cooperative (i.e. a private physio owned/controlled business entity).

Secretary General of Co-operatives UK

Ed Mayo

Ed Mayo is Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the network for the UK’s thousands of co-operative businesses. He is a long-term co-operator and has a track record of innovation and impact in his work to bring together economic life and social justice.


Ed is Chair of the participation charity, Involve and Vice-President of Co-operatives Europe - as well as being involved in a range of organisations and enterprises that promote a fairer and more sustainable economy. He is editor of The Co-operative Advantage: innovation, co-operation and why sharing business ownership is good for Britain, published in 2015, and co-author of the book Consumer Kids.


Ed Mayo was one of the team who founded the Fairtrade Mark, which sources products from co-operatives and small-scale producers in developing countries. He rose to prominence as director of the New Economics Foundation from 1992 to 2003. He led the organisation from two to fifty staff, creating an award-winning ‘think-and-do tank’, looking at ethical market activity, local economies and public service reform. Ed is now a fellow of NEF. He helped to start the London Rebuilding Society as its first chair and during this time chaired the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The campaign led to billions of dollars of debt cancellation, helping countries like Tanzania and Uganda to raise their primary school enrolment rate.


From 2003 – 2009, he was Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council, merging this with two other bodies to found a new statutory consumer champion in 2008. He was described by the Independent as “the most authoritative voice in the country speaking up for consumers”, while the Guardian has nominated him as one of the top 100 most influential figures in British social policy. In 2014, Lucy Siegle, The Observer,      commented that “Ed has played a leading role in almost every environmental and ethical business initiative over the last two decades.”


Ed was nominated a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum and in 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the London Metropolitan University for his work to build an ethical economy. His original degree is in philosophy, from Cambridge University. After a short period as a management consultant at Accenture, Ed joined the World Development Movement, serving as acting Director until 1992.

Managing Director of Osmond Ergonomics

Guy Osmond

The UK's most knowledgeable supplier of innovative products and services to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity is Osmond Ergonomics. His company has been supplying products to improve the health, productivity and wellbeing of personnel in the workplace and also has extensive experience of helping individuals and addressing disability issues.

Guy has been involved in a variety of businesses since 1975, including a wine bar, a children's clothes shop, commercial property and video games before starting this business in 1992. His company Osmond Ergonomics has worked closely with a number of large companies including Hewlett Packard and the BBC.

Visit his online blog for regular event and product updates