A SPORTS therapist is devastated she cannot yet open her practice – and fears her patients could be putting extra strain on the NHS.

Lucy Meakin, who runs Recovery Drive, a specialist sports clinic in Portslade, cannot understand why her firm must stay closed while hairdressers and pubs will be allowed to reopen this weekend as the coronavirus lockdown eases.

She said: “I was really hoping I would be allowed to reopen on July 4. But it appears barbers, hair salons, pubs, bars and cafés are allowed to reopen and sports therapists like myself are not allowed to return to work.

“I treat people with bad knees and backs, elderly people with hip and knee replacements,and kids injured playing football and boxing. Everyone who sees me is in pain. That’s what I don’t understand – a hair salon seems like more of a luxury to me.

“I’m working with people who need treatment – we’re just trying to help them alleviate the pain.”

Lucy had to close her clinic on March 20. She has been relying on the Government’s grants for the self-employed. “If I didn’t have that, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said.

“Lots of businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and I know they’re all eager to open.

“I just don’t know why we’re allowed to yet.”

Lucy is concerned her patients will place an unnecessary burden on the NHS.

She said clients have had to visit their GPs for pain relief and anti-inflammatories because they are unable to attend appointments with her.

“What I’m most worried about it that people who can’t get their normal treatment are going to rely on their GPs, putting the NHS under even more pressure.

“That’s the main reason I believe the Government should allow us to open as soon as possible – it would remove the burden on the NHS.

“With sports therapy we are able to treat many conditions such as sciatica, scoliosis, joint pain, lower back pain and without treatment these can often lead to the need for surgical interventions as injuries develop into more serious chronic conditions.”

Lucy recognises that she will have to come into close contact with her clients, but said sports therapists can use similar protective measures to physiotherapists and chiropractors – including wearing PPE.

She said: “It is a one-on-one environment and poses less risk than bars, salons and restaurants. There would be no more than one client in the clinic at any time, no waiting areas, and no mass gatherings.”

Lucy said under lockdown, people have been doing more exercise and the demand for sports therapists’s services has skyrocketed.

She said it had been “overwhelming” – and if left unchecked, would “end up putting further strain on our hard working key workers in the NHS”.

The Government says it has asked some businesses to stay shut where there is a risk of close proximity between people of different households. It has said it will help businesses reopen safely and “as soon as possible”.