Osteopathy in practice
There are more than 4,600 osteopaths registered with the General Osteopathic Council, which includes some who practise abroad. Those practising carry out more than seven million consultations every year in the UK alone. Of those consultations, 54% of new patients are seen within one working day of contacting the osteopath and 95% are seen within one week.
The profession attracts almost equal numbers of male and female practitioners, and some have already qualified in another healthcare practice such as medicine, nursing or physiotherapy. The majority of UK osteopaths (86%) practise in England, with 3.2% in Scotland, 2.4% in Wales, 0.4% in Northern Ireland and 8.4% working overseas.
Most osteopaths are self-employed and work in the private sector, although some are working in multi-disciplinary environments within government healthcare and in occupational healthcare in public bodies and private companies. All osteopaths, wherever they work, must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council.
Training courses generally lead to a bachelor’s degree in osteopathy (a BSc Hons, BOst or BOstMed) or a masters degree (MOst). Courses usually consist of four years of full-time training, five years part-time or a mixture of full or part-time. There are also courses with accelerated pathways for doctors and physiotherapists. A degree course includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, nutrition and biomechanics, plus at least 1,000 hours of clinical training.
The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law (Protection of title) and you have to be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) to practise in the UK. It is a criminal offence, liable to prosecution, for anyone to claim explicitly or by implication to be any kind of osteopath unless they are on the GOsC Register. In order to be registered, you must have completed a course of training that is recognised by the GOsC.