COVID-19: A response to Educate & Advocate by Maurice Cheng

The iO recently received a letter from Educate & Advocate regarding the osteopathic profession during the coronavirus outbreak. The below is the response from CEO, Maurice Cheng, issued on 25 March 2020:


Dear Educate and Advocate

I would firstly like to thank you for your considered and constructive letter outlining your current concerns, and also your appreciation of our efforts to date.

I would like to provide you and your colleagues some important assurances to your concerns.

Firstly, I would like to assure you that we are not encouraging in any way that practices continue as normal during this period. What we are advocating is that osteopaths continue to provide community services through remote consultations.

What we have been advocating from the start is that there is a role for osteopaths to play to support their local communities and minimalising the burden on the NHS by providing remote consultations,  health advice and reassurance, except in an emergency or urgent need case. Such cases should be identified in line with the NHS guidance, which we and other healthcare professions (such as physiotherapists, podiatrist and dentists which work in private practice) are applying.

We also fully agree and want to make clear to all osteopaths that the call to arms to support NHS colleagues is not for front line care of COVID-19 patients. That is not our role.

Public Health England, NHS England and Health Education England have confirmed that they see our role as being part of the broader healthcare workforce that will be critical to supporting other NHS services, to allow those with the appropriate specialist training to be deployed directly to the front line of COVID-19 care. Indeed, this was reiterated in our discussions with Health Education England today who asked that osteopaths consider support in such areas as NHS 111 call handling and bank locum work for support roles.

We share your frustration that it has not been possible to disseminate information to the private practice healthcare workforce at the same pace as within the NHS while the Government implement their crisis management planning and we will continue to lobby on behalf of the profession and work closely with these organisations to determine how we can best support our nation during the current crisis and beyond.

Maurice Cheng
CEO, Institute of Osteopathy