Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report


Features of the General Osteopathic Council and the General Chiropractic Council

The General Osteopathic Council

The GOsC was established under the Osteopaths Act 1993 to regulate, develop and promote the profession. It is the only body, by statute, able to register and regulate osteopathic practitioners by law. It is a criminal offence for anyone to practise as an "osteopath" unless they are registered with the General Osteopathic Council.

The GOsC has a duty to safeguard patients by ensuring high standards of ethical and clinical practice. Osteopathy was the first healthcare profession to be awarded statutory self-regulation for over 40 years, and the first of the professions previously outside conventional medical services to achieve statutory recognition.

The Act came fully into force in May 2000. It will ensure that:

    All osteopaths have proven high standards of clinical competence.

    High standards of professional conduct are enforced by a single regulatory body.

    All osteopaths have professional indemnity insurance.

    There is an effective mechanism for dealing with complaints.

The Act established four Statutory Committees:

The Education Committee, committed to training and maintaining the highest standards of osteopathic education and practice for the benefit of the public.

The Investigating Committee, which will investigate any allegations against a registered osteopath of conduct which falls short of the standards required.

The Professional Conduct Committee, which will consider allegations of professional misconduct referred to it by the Investigating Committee.

The Health Committee, which will consider allegations of serious impairment due to ill-health of a registered osteopath referred to it by the Investigating Committee.

In addition to these Statutory Committees there are a number of other committees covering executive matters such as legal issues and finance, ethics and external affairs.

The Statutory Register opened on 9 May 1998. Closure of the initial period for registration of existing practitioners took place in May 2000. Subsequent registrants qualify by receipt of a recognised qualification obtained from an accredited school.

The Council presently has over one-third lay membership. Under the Act, the Council is constituted as follows:

24 members made up of:

  • 12 (elected) osteopath members

  • 8 lay members (appointed by the Privy Council)

  • 3 education members and

  • 1 member appointed by the Secretary of State

Neither the 3 education members nor the Secretary of State's appointee need be osteopaths.

The General Chiropractic Council

Set up in 1998, the GCC is a United Kingdom-wide statutory body with regulatory powers, established by the Chiropractors Act 1994.

It has three main duties:

    —To protect the public by establishing and operating a system of statutory regulation for chiropractors.

    —To ensure the development of the profession of chiropractic, using a model of continuous improvement in practice.

    —To promote the profession of chiropractic so that its contribution to the health of the nation is understood and recognised.

The General Chiropractic Council is accountable to Parliament through the Privy Council.

Council membership and appointment:

    —10 chiropractors elected by registered chiropractors;

    —6 members appointed by the Privy Council (must be non-chiropractors, one a medical practitioner);

    —3 members appointed by the Education Committee;

    —1 member appointed by the Secretary of State

There are four statutory committees:

    —the Education Committee

    —the Investigating Committee

    —the Professional Conduct Committee

    —the Health Committee

Council meetings are open to the public.

The GCC sets and publishes the Code of Practice for Chiropractors. This covers all aspects of their conduct in their dealings with patients and other health professionals. All complaints and allegations are investigated. Where a complaint is proven, the powers of the General Chiropractic Council range from a written admonishment to removing the chiropractor's name from the Register.

The GCC is financed totally from registration fees.

Source: Budd, S. & Mills, S. (2000) Regulatory Prospects for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Information Pack. University of Exeter on behalf of the Department of Health