Since the Government announced its intention to relax social restrictions from 19 July onwards, we have been consulting with the relevant public bodies, counterparts in private healthcare and regulators to determine what impact this may have on operational advice for private practice osteopaths.
In short, the outcome is that there is little that will change in terms of the required infection control measures under which we are currently operating.
On the main question, the use of masks by patients: in line with the public health bodies of England and the home nations and Government recommendations, it is still recommended that patients are encouraged to wear a face-covering when receiving osteopathic care, unless exempt.
In the case of exemptions or for those unwilling to use a face mask, our advice remains that osteopaths should use a face visor in addition to their existing PPE.
For those osteopaths who still have concerns, you may wish to apply a policy that states that if a patient is unable to wear a face covering, they may not be able to receive hands-on treatment due to the close contact required and therefore risk of transmission.
If you choose to put such a policy in place, you should make every effort to support the patient to find appropriate, alternative care. This could be by offering a telephone/virtual consultation, a recommendation to an alternative practitioner or clinic who can provide treatment or refer them to their GP for access to NHS services.
Naturally, any such policy must be proactively communicated to all your current and prospective patients before any appointments are booked, and clearly published on your website and any other relevant clinic information materials.
We have provided some additional detail on the COVID hub’s FAQs, should you have any further questions.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to support the profession to ensure that you can operate safely and maintain the valuable health services you provide, throughout this period and beyond.
CEO, Institute of Osteopathy