iO Convention 2016: Training osteopaths in conditions they are not allowed to advertise to treat

This Friday (25th November) sees the start of The Institute of Osteopathy’s Convention 2016 ( Looking at the programme, training is being offered on a number of conditions that osteopaths are not allowed to advertise to treat including:

  • A full day seminar on “Supporting new mothers and babies”. Within this seminar are sessions on tongue tie and feeding disorders and infant behaviour.
  • A case study about “Baby Check Bath”, a Community Interest Company that provides osteopathy to babies who are (according to the Baby Check Bath website) “distressed, cry for long periods of time and are difficult to feed and soothe.”
  • Diagnosis of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) / ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis)
  • Osteoporosis

The list of conditions that osteopaths may advertise to treat can be found on the CAP website. Last year, further guidance was provided to all osteopaths by the General Osteopathic Council (regulatory body for osteopathy in the UK), the Advertising Standards Authority and the Committee of Advertising Practice. See this link for the guidance they provided to osteopaths: The reason why some conditions are excluded is “that the evidence base for helping these conditions with osteopathy is insufficient and / or they are conditions for which suitable medical supervision should be sought.” In other words, people with these conditions shouldn’t be treated by an osteopath and should instead be seeing a medical professional (e.g. GP).

None of the conditions identified above are on the list of “allowed” conditions for which an osteopath may advertise their treatment. The sessions about babies (“Supporting new mothers and babies” and “Baby Check Bath”) are about the very things that the letter from the GOsC, ASA and CAP highlights as being specifically excluded from the list of “allowed” conditions. The letter also makes it clear that by breaching their advice an osteopath is at risk of being in breach of the Osteopathic Practice Standards. The leaves us with the question: “Why is the Institute of Osteopathy providing seminars for its members about conditions they are not allowed to advertise to treat?” This further serves to highlight the problems with the osteopathy industry in the UK that do not seem to have been fully addressed in spite of the clear guidance issued by the GOsC, ASA and CAP. It’s hard to imagine how continuing to train osteopaths in conditions they are not allowed to advertise to treat could be in the best interest of patients.


4 thoughts on “iO Convention 2016: Training osteopaths in conditions they are not allowed to advertise to treat

  1. The Institute of Osteopathy are well aware of the CAP advice. They are also well aware that the GOsC has been receiving large numbers of complaints from us, mainly relating to misleading claims to treat various paediatric conditions.

    I think it is rather telling that they advise their members:

    “The CAP Code applies only to your advertising
    It does not restrict your clinical practice or verbal communication with your patients.”

    This suggests that they see no problem with osteopaths making unsubstantiated claims directly to patients.



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