6. Leadership

The leadership project focuses on the creation of a leadership development programme specifically designed for osteopaths, and aimed at significantly enhancing the leadership capacity within the profession.

Why is a leadership programme relevant to me as an osteopath?

Leadership skills can be applied in many ways. This could be as part of a formal structure such as on the Council of the Institute of Osteopathy, the General Osteopathic Council or helping to run a regional group. Leadership training could help you to grow and develop your own practice, or to promote the role of osteopathy to the wider healthcare community. These skills are also highly sought after when applying for jobs in the NHS. As a healthcare professional, an understanding of leadership competencies can be valuable regardless of at which level you are working and often people don’t really start to understand their own potential until they work with others to identify their strengths.

Why is a leadership programme important for the development of the profession?

All professions rely on the voluntary effort of a wide range of committed individuals to ensure that the organisations and activities of the profession grow and develop. Many people who are keen to make a contribution to their profession lack the skills and confidence that could enable them to make a difference. Providing training as part of a leadership programme is one way to help sustain the profession into the future.

How can I get involved?

This project has led to the development of a bespoke programme for the osteopathic profession delivered in partnership with the Open University.

Please note: Applications are closed during COVID-19. You can download details of the programme here . The schedule for the programme with be confirmed when enough applications have been received.

Project background


There is a growing focus within healthcare on leadership capacity and development among healthcare professionals. While some aspects of this are focused on clinical matters, there is a wider recognition of the need to develop leadership potential. Recent developments in this area include:

  • The development and recent revision of the NHS Leadership Framework (by the NHS Leadership Academy) which provides a consistent approach to leadership development for all staff in health and care irrespective of discipline, role, function or seniority
  • The growth of independent leadership initiatives within healthcare such as those delivered by the King’s Fund
  • The identification of leadership failings as a major factor in events at Mid Staffordshire hospital set out in the Francis Report, as well as similar events elsewhere.
  • There is also an increasing realisation of the need to develop better leadership skills among osteopaths. The osteopathic profession has a lack of structures within which leadership development can be effectively supported, but a range of activities and institutions where leadership development and capacity building are required. The raising of general clinical and professional leadership skills should also have a positive long term impact on osteopathic development and employment in the UK. While there are a number of existing leadership programmes available, it would be beneficial to have a programme or elements of a programme that are osteopathic profession-specific.

This project aims to identify ways to support the development of generic leadership skills within the osteopathic profession and define practical paths to delivering and marketing these programmes. With this in place, the profession will be able to nurture strong sustainable leadership for the future of the osteopathy, dedicated to improving the overall quality of UK health and patient care.

About the Osteopathic Leadership Programme

The programme is built around an existing 25-hour Open University distance-learning leadership course (to find out more about the e-learning module, visit: http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/short-courses/bg005) and a supported work-based assignment, with the addition of two face-to-face workshops led by existing leaders working with the osteopathic profession. The workshops will enable participants to identify their learning needs in the context of the osteopathic profession and to apply their learning in their future professional lives.

The programme offers the opportunity for those looking to develop their leadership skills or build their confidence in taking on a leadership role. The programme is aimed at any osteopath who wishes to apply leadership skills in clinical practice, a professional group, education or research.

Project team

The project team includes representatives from the General Osteopathic Council (Steven Bettles), the Institute of Osteopathy (Maurice Cheng, Matthew Rogers) and the Council of Osteopathic Educational Institutions (Fiona Hamilton).


Matthew Rogers: matthew@iosteopathy.org