In April this year, I was appointed as a registrant council member to the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). However, most people may be unaware who the GOsC are and what this appointment means. The GOsC are one of nine healthcare regulators in the UK and they are responsible for regulating osteopaths. Other regulators include the General Medical Council and General Dental Council who have similar responsibilities for doctors and dentists. By law, osteopaths must be registered with the GOsC to lawfully practise in the UK. To be eligible for registration, osteopaths must demonstrate that they have a recognised qualification in osteopathy from an approved provider, have adequate professional indemnity insurance and be in good health mentally and physically. They must also evidence a minimum of 90 hours training covering specified topics every 3 years. The primary objectives of the GOsC are:
Protecting, promoting and maintaining the health, safety and well-being of the public.
Promoting and maintaining public confidence in the profession of osteopathy.
Promoting and maintaining proper professional standards and conduct for members of that profession.
To achieve these objectives, the GOsC keeps the register of all osteopaths permitted to practise in the UK. It works with the public and the osteopathic profession to promote patient safety by developing and maintaining the standards of osteopathic care. It helps patients with concerns or complaints about osteopaths and has the power to remove osteopaths from the register if necessary. The GOsC also assures the quality of osteopathic education by working with educational institutions and periodically evaluating their courses.
The GOsC has a team of staff who perform the various roles described above. The Council sets the strategic direction for the organisation and oversees the implementation of that strategy. This work is overseen by the Council and its committees to ensure that the GOsC fulfils is statutory objectives. As the GOsC is a statutory body, members of the Council are appointed by the Government’s Privy Council under the scrutiny of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. The Council consists of five osteopathic (or registrant) members and five lay members. I have been appointed as a registrant member and will sit a minimum term of four years.
Being appointed to one of the UK health regulatory bodies at the beginning of the World’s largest ever pandemic has, to say the least, been a steep learning curve! Council meetings would normally take place in the Council chambers in London, but like everyone else, we have had to get used to virtual meetings from home. This can be particularly interesting with the home schooling of three children also taking place in the house. We have had to familiarise ourselves with ever changing health policy while doing what we can to support the thousands of osteopaths and their patients in these difficult times. Additionally, one of my committee roles incorporates the educational responsibility of the GOsC, which has been a particular challenge as universities try to continue providing for students even though they can’t attend lectures.
Although I have only been in post a few months, I have learned a lot in this time and feel proud that I have been able to contribute to maintaining the standards of my profession through particularly difficult times. While it has been a fascinating and rewarding time, I am hoping that we can move on to more routine business over the next few months…