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How osteopaths are responding to our equality, diversity and inclusion pilot so far

13 April 2022

By Dr Stacey Clift (view more by this author)
Stacey is GOsC's Senior Research and Policy Officer.

Stacey reflects on the latest feedback from the survey and the focus groups as part of GOsC’s equality, diversity and inclusion pilot.

Firstly, thank you to all of you who have completed the EDI pilot survey so far and those of you who have attended our focus groups. Feedback about the pilot has generally been positive and myself and others at GOsC are very grateful to those who have shared their stories with us.

I’m pleased to say that a total of 40 osteopaths have completed the survey at the time of writing this blog. It’s early days, but from this we know that:

  • Almost two thirds have felt able to share with us their personal data as part of the survey.
  • Over half of those who have responded have experienced unwelcome comments or conduct while training which they considered to be offensive or hurtful.
  • Just under half of respondents have experienced discrimination (for example unfair, negative or adverse treatment) as an osteopath or osteopathic student based on one or more aspects of their background or identity.
  • More than a third of respondents know a colleague that has experienced discrimination as an osteopath or osteopathic student based on one or more aspects of their background or identity.
  • Our survey is looking fairly representative at this early stage, although we are slightly under-represented with male and non-binary osteopaths and osteopaths who are pregnant or on maternity leave, compared to the Office of National Statistics data.

I’ve noticed that osteopaths who have responded to the survey are feeling a bit hesitant about this process and unsure whether we will be able to make a positive difference. I’ve picked out some of the key questions they have been asking us and set out my responses below, I hope you find these helpful.

Why does EDI data matter?

EDI matters to us because we want to be inclusive, so we want to make sure we don’t inadvertently put barriers up for people with protected characteristics.

As we don’t know the full diversity of the population of osteopaths, we can’t completely understand whether our processes and procedures – such as our quality assurance of education, registration application process or CPD verification procedures – are having a negative impact on individuals with specific protected characteristics.

We can only begin to answer these questions if we have data related to individual osteopaths and the osteopathic population.

What will GOsC do with my data?

We will only use this information to comply with our legal obligations to:

  • eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • promote equality of opportunity
  • foster good relations between those that have particular protected characteristics and those that don’t

Please feel assured that we won’t publish this information on the Register and we won’t share it with third parties. This information will only be used by GOsC staff for the purposes outlined above and not to investigate an osteopath in any way.

Your information will also help us tailor our communications so they meet the needs of all osteopaths.

If you decide to complete the survey, above all else we promise to handle your information with care and sensitivity.

What happens if I disclose a disability?

We ask questions related to health and disability so that we can monitor and improve the services we provide to all of the osteopaths on our Register, and to ensure we can offer support, not to remove individuals from practice.

Many students with health conditions have successfully completed their courses and gone on to practise osteopathy. This includes students with learning difficulties, sensory impairments, physical disabilities, health conditions, a variety of long-term illnesses and mental health conditions.

The key point for osteopaths to consider is whether any health condition would impact on patient care. As osteopaths you will be aware of the requirements of the Osteopathic Practice Standards, which include the requirement that any issues or challenges ‘with your own health do not affect your patients’. You can find further information on our website, including our guidance for students and osteopathic educational providers, and how the Osteopathic Practice Standards relate to osteopaths who may have a disability or health condition.

What difference does GOsC hope to achieve?

This is a great question and one we have been thinking about quite a bit.

To create a positive impact we need to understand, support and celebrate the diversity within the whole profession. By doing this, we hope to amplify the voices of minorities and create a more inclusive culture in both education and practice for osteopaths and their patients.

But we can't make positive changes to our own processes unless we know where the challenges are. We will only know the impact our regulatory activities have on those with protected characteristics if osteopaths complete the EDI survey.

Ultimately, we want to ensure everyone can have a positive experience while training and registering to be an osteopath, regardless of their background, identity and protected characteristics.

How to get involved

If you’re interested in taking part in this pilot, please complete the EDI survey online before 30 April 2022.

You’re also very welcome to join our focus group on Tuesday 26 April 6:30-7:30pm. Please contact info@osteopathy.org.uk to find out more.