Osteopathy is excluded from the legislation requiring healthcare providers to register with the Care Quality Commission in England (and the equivalent bodies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), or in England to be licensed by Monitor where providing services to the NHS. As such, there are currently no defined service standards for osteopathic practice.
Examples of where there has been an increasing focus on quality of healthcare provision include but are not limited to:
- The development of NHS contracts
- The efforts by BUPA to ensure uniform quality standards across commissioned services
- The findings of the Francis inquiry in relation to care standards.
This project aims to explore the range of quality standards that are in use elsewhere in UK healthcare and develop an associated scheme to give osteopaths and their practices the opportunity to achieve some form of voluntary accreditation.
This would exceed the basic clinical practice standards expected of GOsC registration (i.e. the undergraduate qualification and the Osteopathic Practice Standards). It would also focus more on providing an explicit description of the requirements that service providers should meet and the outcomes that patients should be able to expect, such as the suitability of premises/equipment, and ensure that good communication, customer services skills and patient feedback is at the heard of all osteopathic service provision.
Such a scheme would provide assurance to patients, commissioners of services and other healthcare professionals that appropriate standards are in place when they seek to commission or use osteopathic healthcare services. It is also potentially a source of professional pride for osteopaths who achieve such service accreditation, and may encourage further evolution of standards in the future.