COVID-19: Registration fees
We know that many osteopaths are unable to provide care for patients given the unprecedented circumstances of the global COVID-19 pandemic and will be trying to manage the consequential loss of income and all the concerns and worries that will flow from that.
To support the massive societal impact of COVID-19, the government has set out a measure of financial support. The Institute of Osteopathy is also providing advice on the types of financial support available to osteopaths. This guidance is being continually updated. We recognise that osteopaths will be looking to reduce their expenditure and this will include consideration of their registration fee, amongst other things.
With regard to registration fees, these are set out in legislation and can’t be changed without a change to that legislation. To make any changes we would need government time to support the necessary amendments to the rules. Changing legislation is not a straightforward and quick process as it also needs approval from the Privy Council and consultation with stakeholders is also expected. The priority of the Department of Health and Social Care in terms of health regulation needs to be the necessary changes to support the response to the COVID-19 emergency and the discharge of statutory duties.
We do, however, recognise that this has been a challenging time for many and we have been working hard to identify what we can do to support osteopaths (within the context of the required delivery of our statutory duties and our charitable objectives). While the Osteopaths Act and Registration Rules constrict what we can legally do, there is flexibility around how direct debit payments are collected, as this is not something which is set out in legislation. Therefore, we have undertaken financial modelling (including review of estimated loss of income and necessary reductions in expenditure) for detailed consideration by our Council, which is required in law. Council has examined this modelling and agreed that we can introduce a system of direct debit deferment as set out below.
Deferral of registration fee direct debit payments
To help ease financial constraints we have introduced the deferral of direct debit payments initially for registrants renewing their registration in May and June 2020. For those registrants who pay by direct debit we will introduce the payment-free months at the start, rather than at the end of the registration year. So, for those about to renew, the payment-free months would begin during this challenging period.
Those registrants who are due to renew their registration in May and June 2020 will be notified by email of this change to registration fee direct debit payments. We are encouraging registrants who normally pay their registration fee in full to set up a direct debit so that they can spread the cost of the fee across the registration year.
Council will be keeping this deferral system under close review, and will consider at a later stage whether this can be rolled out for those who renew their registration later in the year.
Another option for osteopaths struggling during this national health crisis, is that, if this suits their circumstances, there is the existing option to reduce registration fees if an osteopath is ‘non-practising’ (ie not seeing or speaking to patients) for three continuous months within their registration year. For example, if an osteopath has been registered for three years or more, their registration fee would be reduced to £320 rather than the full registration fee of £570. There is more information on the o zone.
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