Access to osteopathy is expensive or limited
Osteopathy is a primary profession, so patients are able to visit an osteopath without referral from a doctor. It is recognised by all major medical insurers, and often found in multidisciplinary clinics with a range of other healthcare practitioners. The level of patient satisfaction with osteopathy is exceptionally high, with over 96% satisfied or very satisfied with osteopathic care. A 2011 study into patients’ expectations of treatment showed that waiting times, delivery of care, a trusting relationship and effective treatment were the main reasons patients sought osteopathic care over NHS physiotherapy.
Unfortunately, osteopathy is almost exclusively private thus reducing the access for those who cannot afford to pay. Whilst there have been several positive (and no negative) trials of osteopathy on the NHS, it remains largely unavailable with some cancelled midway due to the recent NHS cuts. What little there is is found primarily in wealthy areas like Chelsea and Devon.
Where available, it has been successfully included in both multidisciplinary pain clinics (working alongside orthopaedic consultants and physiotherapists as well as counsellors and psychologists) and in standard GP practices. It was anticipated that the change to CCGs would enable greater access under the Any Qualified Provider scheme, but so far few osteopaths have been able to offer large enough consortia to supply the local needs.