The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) was established by the Osteopaths Act 1993 to ‘provide for the regulation of the profession of osteopathy’.
The overarching objective of the GOsC is the protection of the public. This involves the pursuit of the following objectives:
a) protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of the public;
b) promoting and maintaining public confidence in the profession of osteopathy; and
c) promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of that profession.
Our work includes:
- setting and maintaining standards of osteopathic practice and conduct
- maintaining a Register of qualified professionals
- assuring the quality of osteopathic education and training
- helping patients with complaints about an osteopath
- removing from the Register anyone who is unfit to practise
The Osteopathic Practice Standards sets out the standards that practising osteopaths must meet. These include knowledge of the safe and competent practice of osteopathy, professional ethics and after-care evaluation.
Failure to comply with the standards of practice may result in Fitness to Practise proceedings being brought against an osteopath.
The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law, and only those included on the UK Statutory Register are entitled to practise in the UK. There are 5,456 osteopaths on the Register: 2,773 women and 2,683 men (as at 1 January 2020). Unregistered practice is a criminal offence. See the Protection of title page for information about what to do if you think someone is calling themselves an osteopath when they are not on the Register.
The GOsC maintains the Register, which provides detailed information about qualified osteopaths and is freely available to the public either online, via the GOsC’s telephone information service on 020 7357 6655 x242, Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Osteopaths who have qualified in the UK or overseas must meet certain requirements in order to be registered with the GOsC. For more information about these, see Becoming an osteopath.
Every year, osteopaths are required to renew their licence to practise. As part of this process the GOsC checks that they have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health and of good character and have met the mandatory requirements of continuing professional development (CPD).
A new CPD scheme for osteopaths began rolling out from 1 October 2018. The purpose of the new scheme is to provide additional assurance to patients that healthcare professionals continue to meet their profession’s standards. This process is often referred to as ‘revalidation’ but the term ‘continuing fitness to practise’ reflects more closely what we are seeking to achieve, by building on our current CPD scheme to demonstrate that osteopaths remain up to date and fit to practise.
Assuring the quality of education
Osteopathy courses must be accredited as Recognised Qualification courses by the GOsC, and they are validated by UK universities. The Council has worked in collaboration with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Institute of Osteopathy and the osteopathic educational institutions to develop the Osteopathy Benchmark Statement, which outlines the exacting standards required for osteopathic training.
We work closely with the educational institutions where osteopaths are trained to develop best practice in osteopathic education, training and care.
The GOsC is the body that patients can turn to if they have concerns or complaints about osteopathic care. If a patient is concerned about the competence or the professional conduct of an osteopath and has been unable to resolve the issue satisfactorily with the osteopath, we will advise on the next steps to take under a formal complaints procedure.
Each year, we produce a formal report outlining the work we have done in the preceding year. These are available in the Annual Reports section.
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