COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions


The FAQ’s below are in line with current Government advice, NHS guidance and in alignment with other professional bodies for healthcare professionals operating in private practice, such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. Guidance is correct at the time of publication, is changing rapidly, and we recommended that you check back regularly.





Your questions:

Operating Your Practice
Am I eligible for a lateral flow test?

The Government is expanding its lateral flow testing programme for those that cannot work from home, to include businesses with less than 50 employees and sole proprietors. To access the programme you need to either register via an online form or, for sole proprietors, email by 31 March.  For more information, click here.

Many local councils are also now offering asymptomatic testing, so are suggesting you check your local authority website for testing centres in your area.

Updated:  19 March 2021

What is the position regarding patients who do not wear masks seeking osteopathic treatment?

We have had several enquiries recently on the legal implications of refusing to treat patients who do not wear face-covering or mask. We have sought legal advice on this issue and in line with other private practice professions, advise the following:

The requirement to wear a mask is guidance not law, with medical exemptions for some. Therefore patients do not have to wear a mask and refusal to treat a patient who refuses to wear a mask may run the risk of being seen as disability discrimination. However, there is also the case that the clinic has to consider its obligations for the health and safety of other patients and staff in its capacity to support public health and keep patients from harm (OPS C5, C4).

In private practice you are not obliged to treat if you are refusing on health and safety grounds, as patients can seek treatment elsewhere i.e. public health services. Your duty of care is fulfilled as long as you provide options or signposted them elsewhere (as per advice below).

There is currently no case law on this issue, so it is currently viewed as a judgement call for the clinic to balance the interests of the patient against its duty to protect the health and safety interests of your staff and other patients.

In the event of a complaint, following the advice and providing alternatives as suggested below, would help evidence that you have tried to make reasonable adjustments and therefore not acted in a discriminatory manner.

  • You may find it useful to outline a clinic policy on treating patients without masks
  • You may wish to sensitively ask at your pre-screening call or at time of booking the appointment if they have any exemption to wearing a mask.
  • Patients do not need to reveal the details of their exemption but thy can in broad terms answer, for example that they have a disability. (Many people now carry a card or lanyard explaining their reason for not wearing a mask).
  • If patients refuse to wear a mask or do not disclose their reasons
    • We would recommend that you explain that the policy is in place to protect staff, who themselves may fall into vulnerable categories, and that it is the your responsibility to balance the risks posed to staff against the patient’s interest in receiving treatment.
    • You can then offer the alternatives - online appointment, out-of-hours, or with another lower-risk practitioner, or refer to NHS services
    • You many wish to come to an arrangement with another clinic who will be willing to treat patients without masks.

Updated: 3 March 2021

What happens if I am contacted by a contact tracing agency e.g test and trace?

Should a contact tracer advise you to self-isolate following a patient contact, we have provided you with a template letter confirming your status as a healthcare professional and use of PPE recommended for healthcare professionals working in your setting.

You can use this letter with the contact tracing agency if you are provided with a relevant contact.

If you are not provided with a contact from the contact tracing team we recommend that you contact your local health protection team (HPT) to dispute the request to self-isolate.  You can find your local HPT from here.

Due to our status as healthcare practitioners operating infection control measures, we are also recommending that you inform all your patients that should they test positive they are NOT to list their osteopath as a social contact. [A clinic poster with this information is available from here.]

If you are contacted by a contact tracing agency following a social contact, you will, however, be required to self-isolate.

The advice above applies to osteopaths operating in all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Updated: 9 December 2020

I have other therapists (non-osteopaths) working in my clinic. Are they allowed to continue working under the current lockdown in England (due to finish 2 December)?

Osteopaths are named in the current legislation, along with other statutory regulated healthcare professions working in private practice, as businesses that are exempt from closing under COVID-19 restrictions.

For those clinics who have individuals providing other ancillary therapy services e.g massage, sports or exercise therapists, we recommend that those therapists seek advice from their own professional association or register for advice e.g Federation of Holistic Therapies (FHT), Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council for advice and others.

It will be the determination of the business owner/principal, following on from the guidance received by that therapist’s professional association/register and a risk assessment of the continuation of that service, if they choose to keep that service open.

Updated: 13 November 2020

What if I am told to self-isolate by a contact tracer when I believe the contact was a patient and I had been wearing PPE?

We have been hearing of some private practice practitioners, including osteopaths, being told to self-isolate without there being appropriate recognition that they are healthcare professionals and may have been wearing the correct PPE.

We have worked with the other professional bodies and liaised with PHE, NHSE, Health Protection Scotland and local Health Protection Teams (HPT).

We are reassured that private practitioners should be managed as healthcare professionals with regard to contacting tracing processes e.g test and trace, and so if the practitioner can demonstrate they have followed PHE’s PPE guidance they should not be managed as ‘test and trace’ close contacts.

Osteopaths should firstly raise any concerns with their local HPTs which will consider the individual circumstances of a private practitioner’s context of the contact and whether other exposures were identified, and thus what action needs to be taken.

iO members can access a template letter that can be sent to their local HPTs or any other body, should they need evidence of that they should be managed as healthcare professionals with regards the contract tracing.

Updated: 13 November 2020

Can I still operate my practice from home during COVID-19?

While there is a legal restriction in place on visiting residential properties for social purposes, following a review of the legislation, as far as we can establish there currently does not seem to be any such restrictions to accessing a residential property if that property is also designated as your place of work or business.

For osteopaths to operate their practices within their residential property, it is important that they not only they follow and apply the guidance on infection control, risk assessment and mitigation, but that they also put in place additional measures to ensure that those entering the premises for business purposes do not interact with any other residents in the property, only have access to areas of the property that are vital to access the treatment area, and that these areas undergo stringent cleaning regimes to reduce the risk of infection between patients, as well as residents.

On discussion with our insurers, they have confirmed that if osteopaths follow the iO best practice guidance for infection control, risk assessment and mitigation, and the additional measure outlined above, there are no exclusions in respect of your iO Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance. Risk assessments and documentation, alongside hygiene and infection control are vitally important and will reduce the likelihood of any incidents and in turn support the defence of any claims.

We also recommend review of follow Government guidance and legislation available on working safely during COVID-19.

Updated: 3 June 2020

What adaptations do I now need to put in place to operate as a result of the Coronavirus?

Before face to face consultations can be considered in your clinic:

  • You must have undertaken a risk assessment of the working environment for which you are responsible, and demonstrated how you have mitigated these risks, and recorded these.
  • You must ensure effective infection prevention and control measures, including access to personal protective equipment (PPE).

To enable you to put these steps in place, please review the following guidance which is available from the iO's COVID-19 guidance:

  • Adapting your practice: Quick guide & checklist
  • Infection control & PPE in osteopathic practice
  • Infection risk assessment & mitigation guide

If you are operating in Wales and Northern Ireland you should be operating face-to-face consultations for emergency and urgent cases only. In Scotland and England, please see our guidance on management of face-to-face consultations.

Updated: 19 May 2020

Should I get my patient to sign a consent form for visiting the clinic?

As part of your pre-screening call, you will need to discuss with your patient the risks of infection when visiting the clinic, osteopathic manual treatment, and what you have done these to reduce these. Their consent for the visit and treatment based on this discussion, should be recorded in your patient notes.

IMPORTANT: Your patient notes are considered a legal document and will be taken as a true reflection of the discussions. While some may prefer to utilise a separate consent form, this is not a requirement if you have full and contemporaneous patient notes.

Updated: 19 May 2020

Can I get my patient to sign a disclaimer form?

It will always be the osteopath’s responsibility to take reasonable care for their patient based on their clinical judgement. It is therefore not appropriate to use patient disclaimers to devolve the responsibility of the osteopath by suggesting they undertake treatment ‘at their own risk’.

Updated: 19 May 2020

What should I do if a patient reports symptoms of COVID-19 after visiting the clinic?

The current evidence suggests the infectious period may begin approximately 2 days before symptoms appear. People are most infectious during the symptomatic period, even if symptoms are mild or non-specific (hence the recommendation to pre-screen before visiting the clinic).

If someone who visited the clinic subsequently experiences symptoms within 2 days of their visit, we suggest the following:

For anyone that has been in direct contact with the patient i.e. within two metres for 15 minutes or more, or within one metre for any amount of time:

If you are wearing PPE in line with the current guidance, then you do not have to self-isolate.

If you subsequently experience symptoms of COVID-19 we recommend you seek testing:

  • If you test negative, you may return to work.
  • If you test positive, you will need to self-isolate and then follow government guidance on the return to work.

For anyone that has had indirect contact with the patient during their visit to the clinic:

This can include other practitioners, reception staff, or other patients in the clinic at that time; should be advised of the situation and you should suggest that they monitor for symptoms. They do not need to self-isolate.

For clinic staff who subsequently experience symptoms, they should self-isolate as per government guidance or seek testing. If tested, the result of their test will determine if they need to self-isolate or if they can return to work, as per the guidance on return to work.

For patients that have been seen by the treating practitioner during the period between seeing the suspected case and it being reported to the clinic:

If the practitioner who has been in direct contact has been wearing PPE in line with the guidance, there is no requirement to inform patients that have been seen by the treating practitioner in the 2 days since seeing the initial patient.

You may, however, as a courtesy, wish to inform patients that you have seen someone who has subsequently experienced symptoms - even if the risk of infection is very small - as the vulnerability of the patient and their close relatives may be an important factor for the patient to consider.

This guidance is subject to change, particularly once the impact of the contact tracing / test and protect system rolls out.

Updated: 29 May 2020

If I am contacted by a Tracing Officer advising that I have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and I am asked for details of all those that I have been in contact with, can I divulge patient details without their prior consent?

We have sought advice from a GDPR specialist and their advice is as follows:

The introduction of a contact tracing system by Central Government is in the public interest to protect citizens of the UK from the transmission of COVID-19. Notwithstanding the need by osteopaths to seek explicit patient consent to share medical records with third parties in order to satisfy GDPR Article 9, some details can be shared where it involves public interest matters.

Article 6 provides special provision where the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.

Clearly tracing those potentially infected with COVID-19 is in the public interest and the osteopath can share basic contact information such as the patient name, address, telephone number and email address with tracing agents. However, they are not permitted to share any medical information (beyond basic contact details) without the consent of the patient or a Court Order.

Despite the urgency of the situation, the osteopath should also satisfy themselves from an ID card, email confirmation or some other verifiable method offered by the Tracing Officer that the person investigating the matter is working on behalf of Public Health England or the appropriate body in Scotland or Wales. They could have an ID card from a variety of sister organisations because Public Health England has a variety of people supporting the initiative under the direction of a regional director. This includes public health staff, local authority environmental health officers, and even NHS sexual health staff with experience of contact tracing and knowledge of their communities.

If the Osteopath is concerned, details can also be verified by contacting the appropriate regional Public Health Office here.

Also, click here to read a letter from Public Health England which provides some useful background information.

Updated: 29 May 2020

Will my insurance cover me if a patient alleges that they contracted COVID-19 in my setting?

We have posed this question to our insurers and their response is as follows:

Providing you are following best practice guidelines, all the advice and rules emanating from the Government, Regulators, Health Department and Professional Body (iO), then the policy will cover your legal liability to patients. If you do not follow the best practice protocols (without a recorded, justified clinical reason for doing so) or break the law, it may be difficult for insurers to support you.

Updated: 29 May 2020

Can I undertake home visits?

We have provided updated guidance for those who wish to undertake home visits. Please read this guidance to ensure that you are able to do these as safely as possible.

Updated: 1 June 2020

My practice is mainly in paediatrics. Is the guidance the same?

There are no restrictions on what patient populations you can see and you can see paediatric patients in line with the guidance for management of face-to-face consultations.

We accept that in paediatric practice there will be other considerations for infection control and recommend reviewing the infection control guidance which will be useful for you to consider.

Updated: 10 June 2020

What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Restrictions Regulations Act?

The Public Health Statutory Instrument linked to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Restrictions Regulations Act, states which business must close under the current restrictions and which businesses may remain open, in the context of travel to and from those businesses and NOT how businesses operate during the lockdown period.

The guidance of how clinics operate during the lockdown period is informed by advice from Public Health bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in liaison with other professional bodies operating in the private healthcare sector, insurers and the regulator.

Updated: 19 May 2020

Am I insured to provide telephone and video consultations?

If you have the iO’s professional liability insurance, we can confirm that you will be insured for telephone and video consultations if you follow the guidance for recording of patient interactions as outlined in our telephone and video consultation advice guide. This includes new patients for which you should undertake a full case history as you would do at an in-clinic session.

If you are insured with another provider, please contact your respective broker to confirm the level of cover.

Updated: 24 March 2020

Financial Support
What government financial support is available to me if needed?

Self-employed support: if you will suffer a significant profit reduction, including due to parental responsibilities, you can apply for  up to £7,500, through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant 3. You will need to apply before the 29 Jan, have average trading profit of £50kpa or less and have filled a tax return for 2018/19. HMRC provides information on this and other possible support avenues, find out more here.

Updated: 6 January 2021

What support is available for small businesses and the self-employed that have been affected by COVID-19

The Government has a number of financial support initiatives, details of which can be found from here.

Updated: 8 December 2020

Is there any other financial support available to me?

The iO Hardship fund was set-up to provide those who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, a small but welcome amount that they can use for essentials until they can access more established support.

Those in the direst of circumstances can apply for a one-off payment of up to £250 to tide them over, whilst they await their reliefs and benefits to be received.

For more information on how to apply visit here.

Updated: 8 December 2020

My business interruption insurance provider has declined my claim due to COVID-19. What can I do?

The stance from most insurers is that their policies do not cover pandemics such as COVID-19 and are not paying out on respective policies. We have been liaising with insurers and experts in this area to understand the issues to determine if there is any recourse for those who have purchased these policies in good faith. The Financial Conduct Authority has recently announced is it seeking clarity on the legality of the position insurers are taking.

In the meantime, you may wish to undertake a complaint process. We have to advise that we cannot make any guarantees or assurances that this process will resolve in a resolution of your claim. For more information on this and a template for the complaints process, click here.

Updated: 5 May 2020

Clinical Guidance
Will osteopaths get priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you wish to receive the vaccine, you may want to write to your GP surgery and/or local trust to register your occupation as a registered healthcare practitioner for inclusion in the vaccination programme under category 2b. We have produced a template letter for those in England, Scotland and Wales which you can adapt to make this request, available here. This approach may yield mixed results dependant on your local area, as each region develops their local processes and hubs for delivery.

Updated: 22 January 2021

Question: Are practice administrative staff also eligible for the vaccine?

The Joint clinical advice from the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines does state “Frontline health and social care workers… or other staff in a healthcare environment” who are at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons are to be considered.  Within the Scottish Chief Medical officer letter this is stated as: “non-clinical but patient-facing staff in secondary or primary care/community healthcare settings.”. We have created an iO template letter, available here – for you to adapt for their purposes accordingly.

Updated: 12 January 2021

Can I be part of the NHS workforce that will be administering COVID-19 Vaccine Team?

NHS Professionals has now opened applications for healthcare professionals who are interested in joining regional teams to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme. For more information click here.

Updated: 8 December 2020

What is the guidance on the use of PPE in osteopathic practice?

Based on latest guidance issued by PHE and applicable for health and community care settingsthe minimum PPE recommended for use by osteopaths where they are providing direct care within 2 meters of a patient is:

  • IIR Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks – Sessional use (up to four hours) or sooner if soiled or damaged.
  • Gloves – Single use to be change after each patient
  • Aprons - Single use to be changed after each patient

On risk assessment basis on anticipated exposure of body fluids/blood

  • Visors/eye protection - Risk assessed for above or if patients are unable to tolerate a face mask or covering

When using PPE as per the recommended guidance, practitioners will not be required to self-isolate should they be contacted by NHS  contact tracing agencies and informed that they have been in contact with an individual with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID 19 in their professional, clinical setting.

For full guidance on infection control and PPE in osteopathic practice, visit our COVID-19 guidance here.

Updated: 22 September 2020

Do patients have to wear face masks?

Patients are encouraged to wear a face mask or face covering during the consultation unless the patient is unable to tolerate a face mask or face covering. Exceptions for the use of face coverings by the public are listed here.  If patients do not wear a mask or face covering, then it is recommended that practitioners wear a visor/eye protection.

Updated 22 September 2020

What is the latest guidance on fallow time/aeration between patients?

It is no longer considered necessary for osteopaths to maintain a fallow period for aeration after each patient. However, it is still recommended that enough time is left between patients to allow for a thorough cleaning regime of the clinic room to be undertaken in line with the guidance previously published.

It is recommended that osteopaths perform an air exchange of the clinical environment at the end of a session of use (i.e. during breaks and at the end of the day) or while decontaminating the full environment which will common areas as well as treatment rooms.

Updated 22 September 2020

Can we still use dry needling / acupuncture at this time?

There is no restriction on the use of dry needling in osteopathic practice at this time. You should continue to follow the specific hygiene guidance as normal for use of dry needles.

Updated: 29 May 2020

Can I provide face-to-face consultations to NHS workers, particularly to those working in direct contact with COVID-19 patients?

A person’s job role / profession should not exclude them from receiving face-to-face care. As per our guidance, if you have in place all relevant infection control measures, have undertaken pre-screening, and in your clinical judgement a face-to-face is required, then you should feel confident to treat. For NHS workers it may also be worth asking if and when they have been tested, as this could also be noted as part of determining potential risk of transmission.

Updated: 29 May 2020

What is the current guidance on how to determine if I should provide face-to-face consultation?

Osteopaths operating in all areas of the UK can open to general practice following implementation of the relevant adaptations required to manage the risk of infection of COVID-19.

In addition, we recommend following the below sequence of steps to determine, in your professional judgement, whether a face to face consultation should be considered:

  • Offer a remote consultation first: Because of the continued risk of infection, you should continue to offer remote consultations as the first approach.
    • You may also consider using remote consultation for case history taking / subjective observations to reduce the need for time in clinic, should a face-to-face consultation be indicated.
  • Undertake a pre-screening call to determine patient risk and clinical reasoning for a face to face consultation: Before a patient is offered a face-to-face consultation, you must undertake a patient risk assessment and record your clinical reasoning for the need for a face-to-face consultation.
    • You should determine whether the patient or a member of their household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or has been tested as positive.
    • You should determine - in your clinical judgement - the need for a face-to-face consultation against any risk to the patient (or their household) or others in the clinic.
  • Obtain patient consent for a face-to-face consultation: You must make clear to the patient the risk of a face-to-face consultation and obtain and record the patient’s consent for treatment. Consent will include, but not limited to:
    • The close patient contact required for osteopathic manual treatment and risks of transmission and exposure.
    • The level of PPE that a clinician will be required to wear to mitigate the risk of transmission.
    • The infection prevention and control measures that will be taken.

IMPORTANT: A record of all the above interactions with patients should be recorded in the patient notes. Your patient notes are considered a legal document and will be taken as a true reflection of the discussions. While some may prefer to utilise a separate consent form, this is not a requirement if you have full and contemporaneous patient notes.

We are still advising no face-to-face consultations for those with symptoms of or confirmed cases of COVID-19 i.e. those self-isolating.

Updated: 12 June 2020

Can I offer a face-to-face consultation to those considered vulnerable?

The NHS currently categorises two risk levels for those often termed ‘vulnerable':

  • Extremely clinically vulnerable: ‘highest-risk’ - also known as the shielded group

For those that are shielding, please see our guidance for this group and for undertaking domiciliary visits.

  • Clinically vulnerable: ‘moderate risk’. People in these groups are recommended to take extra care but are not told to shield.

Face-to-face consultations can be considered for those in the moderate risk group on completion of the sequence of steps outlined for the management of face-to-face consultations.

For an up-to-date list of who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable / high risk, and those that are moderate risk visit NHS UK.

Please note that some groups that had previous been identified as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’, have now been downgraded to moderate risk. Those that have been downgraded to moderate risk include anyone over 70 years of age and pregnant women if they have no underlying health conditions (as listed in the high-risk categories).

Updated: 1 June 2020

What type of surgical mask should I be using?
  • Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks (FRSM Type IIR) are the most appropriate option and provide the level of protection required in most osteopathic contexts - PHE advice section 10.2

The following can be used if the above is not available, although these are more expensive. Please note that the below types of mask must be fit-checked (according to the manufacturer’s guidance) to ensure an adequate seal and fit has been achieved. More information can be found by clicking here.

  • In the absence of a supply of FRSM IIR, the next grade up can be used - a Filtering Face Piece respirator FFP2 (also referred to as N95) - PHE advice section 10.1 - From June 2020, the Health and Safety executive have removed KN95s from their list of appropriate PPE.
  • In the absence of a supply of FRSM (IIR) or FFP2, the next grade up can be used - FFP3 respirators - these are more expensive.
  • Respirators (FFP2 and 3) must be fit checked (according to the manufacturers’ guidance) to ensure an adequate seal has been achieved - PHE advice section 10.1
  • Facial hair should not be allowed to interrupt the respirator’s seal (PHE advice)

The iO has provided a list of suppliers that can provide the required quality / standards of Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask (IIR) FRSM. For the full list of approved PPE suppliers, visit COVID-19 - Adapting Your Practice.

IMPORTANT: Once your order has been received, please check that the box and / or masks are labelled as the correct grade i.e. IIR masks should be labelled as such.

Updated: 18 June 2020

What do I need to know about using PPE correctly?

There is specific guidance on how to ‘don’ and ‘doff’ PPE. The following video (published 2 April) provides the most up-to-date advice on donning / doffing PPE, including the type of PPE osteopaths need in private practice. You can also refer to the iO’s infographic on use of PPE in osteopathic practice on how to put on and take off standard PPE by clicking here.

Gloves and aprons should be changed after each patient and disposed of as per the guidance. According to the Government / PHE guidance, surgical masks can be used for session work rather than single patient contact. In NHS terms, ‘1 session’ is usually considered a half day or up to 4 hours.

IMPORTANT: If the mask gets wet from breathing, is contaminated or damaged, you will need to take it off sooner.

Dispose of your PPE in ‘double-bagged’ plastic bags, and keep away from all other rubbish for at least 72 hours prior to collection by your local authority. Please check with your local authority for any specific guidance in your area.

Updated: 19 May 2020

Is my insurance invalid if I do not use PPE?

We have been working with our insurance partners and in liaison with other insurers who provide Professional Liability Insurance to the osteopathic profession throughout this process, to enable you to adapt your operations with safe practice protocol in place.

They require osteopaths to abide by legal and regulatory requirements, and make safe and appropriate clinical decisions about their work based on the best practice guidelines, including those for infection control in osteopathic practice.

They will expect practitioners to take all reasonable steps to follow best practice advice to reduce the risk of infection, and if you choose not to use PPE, you will need to justify and record your clinical reasoning for your decisions.

The iO guidance for infection control & PPE in osteopathic practice.

Updated: 19 May 2020

Supporting the NHS
What opportunities are there to work and/or support the NHS?

We have seen increasing opportunities for osteopaths to work directly in NHS roles and potentially support COVID-19 initiatives such as the vaccine rollout scheme.

For information on joining NHS to support vaccine rollout programme click here.

For more information on working in the NHS and how to apply for roles visit NHS Matters.

The iO will advertise osteopathic NHS roles that we are aware via our weekly email newsletter and social media community Let’s Talk Osteopathy

Updated: 8 December 2020

I’d like to offer assistance to my local GP practice. What can I do?

A number of colleagues have notified the iO that they are considering offering support to their local GP surgeries. As you will appreciate, GPs are incredibly busy at present with the COVID-19 crisis and are under a lot of pressure.

Because of this, some GP surgeries may not be as responsive as they are prioritising only essential care.

A first step would be to call your practice to see if they are still open and ask to speak to the practice manager about offering remote support. If they do want to know more about osteopathic training, it’s important to note to them that osteopaths are regulated by law, and in England we are considered to be Allied Health Professionals. More information on this as well as safety, effectiveness and patient experience of osteopathic care can be found in the iO’s Quality in Osteopathic Practice report.

Updated: 22 April 2020

Do I need GOsC registration to work in the NHS or provide telephone advice?

Yes. To continue to operate as an osteopath and healthcare professional you will need to maintain your GOsC registration.

Updated: 24 March 2020

Are osteopaths included in the definition of key workers?

During the first of the national lockdowns, there was clear legislative guidance that osteopaths as healthcare professionals are considered key workers and as such their children prioritised for education provision.

While there is national guidance, it does state that the final decision on access to education is to be made at a local level. This has seen divergence across and within the four nations during the current lockdowns.

To support those seeking to access education for their children as a key worker, we have produced a template letter available here which can be used to confirm osteopaths’ status, which we hope will facilitate those making a case for access to education.

Updated: 8 January 2021

When travelling back to the UK from abroad, are osteopaths considered ‘essential healthcare workers’ or will we need to quarantine for 14 days?

The Government advice is not very clear on this point and therefore we have sought advice on the interpretation of the Government’s statement that “registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to Coronavirus” do not have to quarantine. We have been advised that this relates to those healthcare professionals coming to the UK for the first time to provide care, not those returning to the UK following trips abroad.

However, we are suggesting that if you are travelling back to the UK following an extended stay due to the pandemic, you should travel with evidence of your healthcare registration and where you work. We suspect you will still need to quarantine but you may have an opportunity to demonstrate your occupation.

Updated: 12 June 2020

How has the iO guidance been developed?

All the iO guidance has been developed taking into consideration Government guidelines and legal frameworks required of regulated healthcare professionals in line with other healthcare professions operating in the private health sector, and in close dialogue with both the regulator and insurers, so to outline best practice in osteopathic care.

Updated: 19 May 2020

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is measures you can take to reduce social interaction between yourself and others in an effort to reduce transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

These include:

  • Avoiding contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus.
  • Avoiding non-essential use of public transport when possible.
  • Working from home, where possible. Employers should be supportive of this.
  • Avoiding all gatherings in public spaces. This includes pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues that should be closed during this time.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Use remote technology (phone, internet and social media) to stay in touch.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact essential services such as your GP, pharmacist or other medical practitioners.

The above guidance excludes those who are residing in your home or normal place of residence. However, should you need to leave your home for an essential reason, you may only do so in pairs (two people) and should adhere strictly to the UK Government guidance.

Updated: 31 March 2020

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation applies to everyone who has symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), lives with someone who does, or those considered in a high-risk / vulnerable group.

Symptoms of Coronavirus include:

  • a fever of above 37.8C
  • a persistent cough and / or breathing problems
  • loss of smell and taste

If you live alone and have symptoms of Coronavirus, you must stay at home for seven days. If someone you live with develops symptoms, your entire household will need to isolate for 14 days from the date they showed symptoms, and monitor for signs of COVID-19.

If someone else within the household becomes ill during that period (and there are no other occupants living in the household), their 7-day isolation period will start on that day.

Everyone who lives in the same house or flat as someone with symptoms should self-isolate along with them.

Self-isolation requires you to:

  1. Stay at home at all times for the necessary self-isolation period. If you have a private garden, you may use this.
  2. Do not go out to buy food, collect medicine or other household supplies – order these by phone or online, or ask someone who is not self-isolating to do this for you.
  3. Do not host visitors, such as friends and family, in your home, and vice versa.

When you have finished self-isolating, you still need to stay at home in line with the UK Government rules, but you can go out for essential duties only.

Updated: 19 May 2020

What is shielding?

Shielding refers to the protection of extremely vulnerable people – who are at very high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19) – by minimising their interaction with others. See the UK Government guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19.

The most vulnerable group includes, but is not limited to:

  • certain types of cancer patients
  • those who have had an organ transplant or require one
  • people with certain genetic diseases
  • those with serious respiratory conditions
  • people with a suppressed immune system
  • pregnant women who have heart disease

Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK who have serious health conditions are being contacted by the NHS and urged not to leave their home at all for at least 12 weeks.

Others living within their household should minimise all non-essential contact with these vulnerable people, and will need to observe careful social distancing at all times.

Updated: 31 March 2020

I’m feeling anxious and concerned. What can I do?

Feeling this way during a pandemic is completely normal. In fact, millions of people are feeling this way too. The iO will be preparing content pertaining to maintaining mental wellbeing in the coming weeks.

For now, visit NHS Every Mind Matters – a great start to keeping negative feelings in check, including mental wellbeing while staying at home, and Coronavirus anxiety tips.

Updated: 26 March 2020

What if I am symptomatic of COVID-19?

If you have a new, continuous cough and/or a temperature of 37.8 degrees or higher, you should follow current government guidance on self-isolation and management. You do not need to contact 111 or be tested for Coronavirus initially – see the PHE guidance on self-isolation.

If you are not clinically better after seven days, you should use the NHS 111 services who will advise if you need to be tested for COVID-19 and give you further health advice.

Updated: 24 March 2020


IMPORTANT NOTE: Safety of the public and our members is of paramount importance. The iO is following the UK Government advice, NHS guidance, and guidance from other professional bodies for healthcare professionals operating in private practice on a daily basis. Any guidance provided on this page is current as of the date of publishing and such guidance may change quickly at short notice.


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