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Advertising osteopathy: GOsC issues joint message with ASA and CAP

22 April 2021

The General Osteopathic Council has issued a joint message with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to all osteopaths, to reaffirm the standards expected when advertising osteopathy to ensure the protection of patients and the public.

The following message was signed by Matthew Redford, Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Osteopathic Council, Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committees of the Committee of Advertising Practice:

Advertising osteopathy: Protecting the public together

Developing an approach to regulation, which is truly patient centred, is far more likely to succeed when a range of organisations and individuals work in partnership together, adopting a model of collective regulation.

Ensuring advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful is essential to maintaining trust in our profession. Advertising regulation provides a set of standards that, when adhered to, help achieve our shared goal of public protection.

The General Osteopathic Council, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice have come together to issue this joint message. Together, we seek to highlight and reaffirm the high standards we all promote in relation to advertising osteopathy to the public to ensure it is responsible and it is not misleading. This joint message comes some four years since new guidance was issued to osteopaths on marketing claims around the treatment of pregnant women, children and babies. 

Osteopaths provide an invaluable service to a wide range of patients and support the responsible marketing of osteopathy services. We ask osteopaths to ensure that their marketing complies with the relevant rules and guidance and, in particular, that any claims about the efficacy of treatment options can be supported.

What do I need to do?

It is good practice to review, on a regular basis, the information contained on your websites and in any other promotional material to ensure it is current, relevant and accurate, and importantly that it continues to comply with the guidance that was issued in 2016 as well as other, more general guidance on advertising osteopathic services.

Remember to check your:

  • website content
  • social media promotions
  • marketing information
  • service directory entries
  • posters
  • practice leaflets

If any of the information does not comply, then you should to take steps to make the necessary changes as soon as possible.

Where can I get advice?

The Institute of Osteopathy, as the professional membership body, will provide advice and support to its members, through the provision of compliant marketing and promotional materials that its members can use as part of their marketing activities. It also provides a review service of members’ websites on request.

The Committee of Advertising Practice provides free and expert pre-publication advice to osteopaths making advertising claims as well as specific guidance on how to ensure marketing claims (which include claims on websites directed to the public) comply with the rules.

Who is the Advertising Standards Authority?

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media, including advertisers’ claims on their own websites and social media spaces. Its role is to ensure ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful both by undertaking proactive projects, and by acting on complaints to take action against misleading, harmful and offensive advertisements. The ASA administers and enforces the rules set out in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).

GOsC Chief Executive and Registrar, Matthew Redford, said: ‘We welcome the opportunity to work again with the ASA and CAP, and to restate how important it is to ensure that osteopathic advertising is not misleading to the public.

The GOsC Osteopathic Practice Standards are clear, Standard D1(2) states that: ‘You should not allow misleading advertising or information about you or your practice’ and failing to comply with the Code and associated guidance or rulings could result in GOsC fitness to practise proceedings.’

Director of the Committees, Committee of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal, said: ‘Together, we work to make ads responsible. We do this by engaging with our regulatory partners, providing guidance on how to stick to the rules, and working to ensure compliance across the sector.’

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