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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On this page we are collating all our updates and key advice from government plus other useful information in relation to COVID-19. 

Advice for patients wishing to see an osteopath 

Osteopaths are being advised to use their professional judgement, in discussion with patients, to determine whether face-to-face treatment is appropriate in the individual circumstances, taking into account the likely benefits and risks and to ensure they explain these clearly to patients to ensure they gain informed consent.

For existing patients, the stringent infection control measures that osteopaths are advised to implement may lead to an experience that is different to what they had been used to before the pandemic – for example, the osteopath may be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), spacing out their appointments to allow time to clean the room between patients, and they may be minimising waiting times within the clinic. These measures will be aimed at keeping patients and practitioners safe as the pandemic continues, and should not affect the high levels of care that patients are entitled to expect from osteopaths.

Many osteopaths will also continue to offer remote consultations to patients, for whom a face-to-face session may not be possible, or recommended, in the professional judgement of the osteopath. Patients should talk through any concerns they may have about attending for treatment in the light of COVID-19 with their osteopath.

Patients can use the GOsC Register Search facility to find an osteopath in their area.

If a patient is unable to find an osteopath in their area who is able to treat them, we are suggesting they can seek advice for an urgent medical problem from NHS 111.

Guidance for osteopathic practices

Update on 12 October 2021: We have updated our infection control guidance to ensure that it fully reflects recent public health body updates.

As osteopaths will be aware, we have not found any information in guidance published to date that prohibits osteopathic practice, and this has been the case since the start of the pandemic.

Osteopaths should therefore feel able to continue to practise, subject to complying with relevant guidance and the restrictions currently in place in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and using our infection control guidance to minimise the risk to patients, osteopaths and others in the clinical environment.

Osteopaths should consider the needs of their patients in relation to receiving treatment against the risks posed by undertaking that treatment both to the patient, themselves, and the public, in the current context of transmission of COVID-19. This is likely to include:

  • Being mindful of Government guidance about social distancing.
  • Triaging patients over the phone prior to attendance to ensure they and members of their household do not have relevant symptoms. Consider, with the patient, whether a video or phone consultation may be an appropriate treatment option.
  • Being aware of what to do in the event of contact with someone with suspected COVID-19.
  • Ensuring that stringent infection control procedures are in place where they are practising and that there are policies in place to reduce the transmission of any diseases.

Osteopaths are required to work within the framework of the Osteopathic Practice Standards (OPS) and should ensure that discussions with patients about vaccines are based upon credible and legitimate sources of public health information such as the NHS website or the MHRA websiteRead more on vaccines.

The professional membership body, the Institute of Osteopathy, has a COVID-19 hub which is also a useful source of information and guidance.

We have published a statement on remote consultations.

We have published a statement which warns osteopaths not to make false coronavirus claims in their advertising

We have published a statement about vaccinations.

Regulation updates

On 5 August 2020, we published an interim remote hearings protocol and a practice note on questioning witnesses.

On 12 June 2020, we published an updated statement on fitness to practise activities highlighting that patient safety remains the key priority.   

On 3 March 2020, we published a joint statement with the other health and care professional regulators across the UK on how we will continue to regulate in light of novel coronavirus

Government advice

The Department of Health and Social Care, and other agencies including Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland are regularly updating their guidance for health and care professionals and information for the public.

The information and guidance are being updated regularly as the situation develops, and osteopaths need to remain alert for any updates.

The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England
COVID-19: guidance for health professionals (PHE and DHSC)
COVID-19: guidance for health professionals and other organisations (PHE)
Latest information and advice for the public

Health Protection Scotland
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for health protection team
Latest information and advice for the public

The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health Wales
Advice including who to contact if you are concerned about coronavirus

Department of Health (Northern Ireland)
COVID-19 (coronavirus) - situation in Northern Ireland

Allied Health Professionals

On 07 December 2020, the Chief Allied Health Professions Officers jointly issued a statement further supporting allied health professionals as they tackle COVID-19.

On 19 March 2020 the Chief Allied Health Professions Officers jointly published a statement on supporting allied health professionals and allied health professional support workers during the COVID-19 epidemic in the UK.

Osteopathic educational providers

On 20 March 2020, we published a COVID-19 statement to Osteopathic educational providers to outline our position.

Communications to the profession

We have received a large number of queries which we have responded to individually. You can see the answers to the main questions here:

During the COVID-19 period, in addition to the news items we are publishing and the updates we are making to this page and on social media, we have been in touch with osteopaths directly in response to email or phone enquiries. Additionally, we have been in contact with osteopaths through the following:

We also received a petition about registration fees from a number of osteopaths and this was our response.

If you need to get in touch

During this time, our staff are working remotely and have limited phone access. If you have any queries, please email: covid19@osteopathy.org.uk.

Useful links