Is Osteopathy Recognised by the NHS?

Breeze Academy August 14, 2022
Osteopath working on a female patient's back

Certain healthcare interventions aren’t regarded as highly as others, and reflecting this some aren’t recognised by the NHS. In this article, we determine whether or not Osteopathy,  once regarded as a pseudoscience by some,  is recognised by the NHS, and take a look…

So, is Osteopathy recognised by the NHS? Yes, Osteopathy is recognised by the NHS as an Allied Health Profession, alongside 13 other holistic interventions. The NHS formally recognised Osteopathy in 2017, after becoming a regulated healthcare profession in 1993. 

Read on to learn more about NHS Osteopathy, other Allied Health Professionals, and career opportunities.

Does the NHS Recognise Osteopathy as an Allied Health Profession?

The NHS does recognise Osteopathy as an Allied Health Profession. This means that it is considered to be a holistic approach to healthcare that can help to manage patients’ care and maximise their wellbeing with as full, active lives as possible. What’s more, Osteopathy’s NHS recognition acknowledges that Osteopaths are degree trained, professionally autonomous and, and are regulated. 

But this wasn’t always the case. Osteopathy wasn’t recognised by the NHS until 2017, even though it became a regulated healthcare profession in 1993. In fact, until recently, some healthcare professionals considered Osteopathy to be a “quack therapy” with little to no actual therapeutic value, and often reduced it to pseudoscience. However, whilst not Medical Doctors (MDs), Osteopaths are recognised with the title DO - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, highlighting their extensive training within a specific branch of healthcare.

What are Allied Health Professions?

Allied Health Professions are a group of 14 alternative therapies, distinct from key healthcare services such as medicine, nursing, optometry, dentistry, and psychology. These professions are recognised by the NHS and are all governed by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or by the General Osteopathic Council (GOC).

Each Allied Health Profession provides a range of specialist diagnostic, technical, therapeutic, and support services to a wide range of patients with the aim of restoring or maintaining physical, sensory, phycological, cognitive, and social functions. 

In the UK, the 14 Allied Health Professions recognised by the NHS include:

Is Osteopathy Available on the NHS?

NHS Osteopathy is available, but not widely across all areas. Most Osteopaths work in private practice, with patients funding their own treatments, but some clinics offer treatments referred by and funded by the NHS. 

Osteopathy Safety & Regulation

As part of being an Allied Health Profession, and contributing to its recognition by the NHS, Osteopathy is fully regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOC). This ensures patient safety, as well as practice, education, and personal development standards. 

Practice Standards

The GOC sets standards relating to best practice and conduct, which include communication, knowledge, skills and performance, safety and quality of practice, and professionalism.

Education and Training Standards

Education and training standards ensure that all Osteopaths practising in the UK have been educated to an approved standard, usually a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Osteopathy. 

Professional Development Standards

The GOC requires that members complete 90 hours of CPD over a period of three years in order to renew their membership and keep their knowledge and skills up to date. 

Learn all about the advantages and disadvantages of CPD in our recent blog. We go over all of the reasons why CPD is so important for healthcare professionals, how it can benefit both your employer and your career, and provide some suggestions on great CPD activities. 

Osteopath Qualifications & Career Opportunities

Whether Osteopaths choose the NHS or private practice, minimum qualification requirements remain the same; 

  • An approved bachelor’s degree in Osteopathy, OR
  • A bachelor’s degree in a related field and an approved master’s degree in Osteopathy
  • Registration with the General Osteopathic Council

From here, however, career and progression opportunities will depend on whether individuals choose NHS Osteopathy or private practice. 


An NHS Osteopath can expect to work around 37.5 hours per week, starting on a band 5 (newly qualified practitioners) salary (£27,055 - £32,934 over 4 years). This can progress as follows:

  • Band 6 (junior practitioners): £33,706 - £40,588 over 5 years
  • Band 7(senior practitioners): £41659 - £47672 over 5 years
  • Band 8a(advanced clinical practitioners, service managers, service leads): £48526 - £54,619 over 5 years
  • Band 8b (lead clinicians): £56,164 - 65,262 over 5 years
  • Band 8c (heads of clinical services): £67,064 - £77,272 over 5 years
  • Band 8d(deputy directors of clinical services & department heads): £79,592 - £91,787 over 5 years
  • Band 9(directors of clinical services): £95,135 - £109,475 over 5 years


In private practice, newly qualified Osteopaths can expect to earn around £15,000 - £20,000, but this will rise as they gain experience. Osteopaths with up to 4 years’ experience can expect to earn an average of £37,500, increasing to £43,420 with 10-20 years’ experience. Further qualifications and specialisms can further enhance salary potential. 

NHS Osteopaths can also help to bump up their salary by working in private practice outside of their normal working hours. 

CPD for Osteopaths at Breeze Academy

CPD is crucial for maintaining registration at the GOC, as well as for ongoing learning and development. At Breeze Academy, we offer a range of CPD courses for Osteopaths that enhance your skills and knowledge and, depending on your individual situation, could increase your service offerings. Choose from learning about the foundations of Acupuncture and Dry Needling, Sports Massage, Clinical Yoga Teacher Training, and more.

You can also learn more about CPD in our recent blog How to Measure the Effectiveness of CPD. We discuss how to evaluate your CPD, take a look at what effective CPD looks like, and how to efficiently keep track of your CPD activities; afterall, three years is a long time to remember everything you’ve done!

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