The latest sector-wide report from the National Council for Osteopathic Research (NCOR) collates anonymised data on the types of concerns received by the insurers, the Institute of Osteopathy (the professional membership body), and also the GOsC.

Key areas of concern

Boundary issues including sexual impropriety

The latest report, collated from 2019 data, shows a significant increase in concerns about sexual impropriety with 17 cases; this is the highest ever recorded. Examples include: conducting a personal relationship with a patient, texting crude messages and/or images to a patient, inappropriate touching of breasts, thighs or massaging of the patient’s groin or buttocks.

Listening and communication including consent

Communication concerns and complaints were slightly higher this time than the previous 6-year average, although still significantly lower than 2013 when data first started to be collected.

Clinical environment

Concerns and complaints about the clinical environment were above average in 2019 this was due, in particular, to concerns and complaints about value for money. I

Trust in the profession and regulation specific complaints

There was an almost threefold increase in complaints in this area in 2019 compared to the average over the previous six years. This increase relates primarily to conduct bringing the profession into disrepute but also to failing to respond to patient complaints or engaging in complaints processes.

Fiona is GOsC’s Director of Education, Standards and Development said:

“Understanding what concerns are reported by patients can help us (osteopaths and regulator too) to reflect on what we do and how we do it, to consider what we can learn and take actions to reduce the risk of complaints and concerns in the future.

“Firstly, I am pleased to be able to highlight that the overall rate of concerns remains low. On average around 3% of osteopaths have concerns raised about them each year. And many of these concerns are resolved locally. However, every concern raised is an opportunity for us all to learn.”

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