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Top 4 things Your GP Should Know About Osteopathy

The UK’s health and medical system has changed a lot in recent years.

The NHS is undergoing the longest and deepest financial squeeze in its history. The NHS face large increases in demand for services as a result of many factors, pressures and increasing patient expectations.

At the same time, patients have higher and more complex needs than ever. With the fact that patients now have to wait longer for GP appointments.

In a recent article by The Times eleven million patients have endured waits of more than three weeks, with 11.3 million patients have waited longer than three weeks. Of those, 5.6 million waited more than a month!

Referral for treatment and with staff being under pressure due to financial strain and staff shortage, it is only natural that the quality and length of care are going to deteriorate and get shorter.

This is in no way suggesting your GP, doctors, nurses or physiotherapists are not good at their jobs, they are amazing at what they do, but in any profession if you are expected to work in some of the conditions our NHS staff are expected to work in, then it is only fair to say that performance will suffer!

gp musculoskeletal care osteopathy york


At the same time there is a UK wide shortage of GPs, not only in York. A greater role for Musculoskeletal (MSK) First Contact Practitioners (where Osteopath’s have been considered) in primary care can offer a solution!

First contact practitioners allow patients to see the right person and receive the right treatment, quicker. Musculoskeletal (MSK) health issues account for around 1 in 5 of all GP appointments according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Musculoskeletal conditions make up to 30% of a GP’s caseload (Department of Health (2006) and is said to account for £4.76 billion of NHS spending each year (Department of Health (2011), Programme Budgeting Data 2009-10, June)

By referral to Osteopathy which specialise in the management of musculoskeletal healthcare, millions of appointments could be freed up for other patients each year. GPs are now choosing to bring in MSK Practitioners into their practice and at times refer to Osteopathy.


If you or your York GP is unsure about osteopathy, this is what you need to know:

1 – Osteopathy Is No Longer “Alternative”

Since 1 April 2017, Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) and Osteopaths have joined the existing 12 health professionals currently within the remit of the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at NHS England.

Link here

Osteopathy is a primary care profession, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders. An Osteopath will use many diagnostic procedures that are used in conventional medical assessment and seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body, where possible, without the use of drugs or surgery.

Evolve Osteopathy in York offers a holistic package of care that includes skilled hands on mobilising and manipulative techniques, reinforced by corrective exercise rehabilitation, diet and lifestyle advice.

After a diagnosis is made, Tom Smith (based at York Natural Health) will discuss with the patient the most appropriate treatment plan, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat their condition or whether an ongoing referral extra imaging is needed.

Osteopaths are skilled in diagnostic techniques and trained to identify when a patient needs to be referred to a GP in York. Increasingly osteopaths often work alongside your GP and other healthcare professionals, providing treatment both privately and through the NHS.

Osteopathy treats and help with the following:

(for those who are sceptical – this is according to the Advertising Standards Agency)

  • Arthritic pain
  • Circulatory problems
  • Cramp
  • Digestion problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
  • Headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic)
  • Joint pains
  • Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core OA treatments and exercise
  • General, acute & chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
  • Generalised aches and pains
  • Lumbago
  • Migraine prevention
  • Minor sports injuries and tensions
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neuralgia
  • Inability to relax
  • Rheumatic pain
  • Sciatica
  • Uncomplicated mechanical neck pain

The list is extensive, many think an osteopath only treats bad backs, which is a myth. Many people think osteopathy means “cracking bones” which is also myth! We do massage, mobilization, we give nutritional advice, ergonomic advice, exercises and of course when necessary use spinal manipulation to free up restricted joints – which creates the audible popping sound.

Osteopathy does not put bones back into place, put things back in line or fix ANYTHING!

2 – Osteopathy Is A Regulated Profession

registered osteopath york

As an Osteopath we have rigorous clinical training in musculoskeletal disorders. Most Osteopath degree courses involve four-five years full-part time study respectively. As part of training, osteopaths gain primary care skills including triaging for pathology, and will refer back to the GP if further investigations are indicated.

Osteopathy is a statutory registered and regulated profession. All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), who regulate the practice of osteopathy in the UK. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC.

The British Medical Association produced guidance for GPs confirming that it is safe for GPs to refer to registered osteopaths as they are statutorily regulated and fully accountable to the patient.

3 – Osteopathy Can Be Referred on the NHS

Osteopathy can be offered through the NHS and in some areas your GP may be able to refer you to an osteopath for treatment funded by the NHS. This will depend on the policy of your new clinical commissioning group (CCG) and whether there is funding available.

In recent times many NHS Physiotherapy outpatient departments have advertised for Osteopath roles and or considered Osteopath’s in their vacant Physiotherapy positions.

4 – Osteopathy Can Save NHS Resources

Musculoskeletal complaints such a low back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain injuries, affect millions of people every year.

The Department of Health estimates that up to 30% of all GP consultations are about musculoskeletal complaints. The costs associated with treating these conditions, in terms of clinical staff time, increased waiting times for investigations, screening and increasing prescription costs, are substantial.

Referral to secondary care and tracking patient progress can lead to practice costs and increase the burden on GP time and resources.

Referring to an Osteopath can have many benefits for your GP such as:

  • Reducing referrals to secondary care such as orthopaedics
  • Reduce the amount of unnecessary investigations (x-ray, MRI, Ultrasound Scans)
  • Reduce the amount of referrals to chronic pain services
  • Increase the number of patients who are able to self-manage effectively
  • Reduce MSK related appointments seen by your GP
  • Free up your GP’s time to do what they do best!

If you or someone you know could benefit from Osteopathic treatment, book today at York Natural Health on 01904 788 411.

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