I somehow deleted my photo of Osteopathy House, so here is the Tower of London instead, which is not far down the road.
A Brand New Council
This was the first meeting of the new, more streamlined Council. A few faces were missing, and a few were new. I had been looking forward to showing nervous new recruits where the coffee was, but alas, some had been re-elected, and already know Osteopathy House like the back of their hand, and the new ones were super-confident types who took it in their stride, and anyway they had already had an induction day. There are only five osteopaths on Council, two less than before, but now they include a woman. Yes, that’s right. A female osteopath has been spotted on the Council. Only one, it’s true, but I have always found that adding just one female to any group of men generally ensures an even balance of talent, so I think we can be reasonably happy with that. Deborah (the new member) runs the Mint Practice and knows her stuff inside and out, so she promises to be a good signing.
The chair, Alison, has been occupied with providing personal feedback to unsuccessful applicants for the FtoP Committees and Council itself, and she felt that this was time well spent. As one of those people was me, I can vouch for that. If you are inspired to have a go yourself, there is going to be another development day in September where you can go to Osteopathy House and get some tips on how to apply.
PSA Performance Review
The Council have again had their own review by the Professional Standards Authority. The PSA are the people who oversee the regulators. The GOsC made it smoothly through this new form of “light touch” review (unlike some other regulators – sadly no names were mentioned). I had heard independently that our regulator is regarded very positively, particularly for being “innovative” and forward looking, so that’s a good thing.
Metaphor of the Meeting
The sleeping giant that is the Osteopathic Educational Foundation could be poked into life
Well, if they’re not asleep, I certainly am. I’ve never ever heard of this organisation, even though I find it’s been around since 1947. They have a friendly and straightforward website here with very cute graphics, and they are now going to be playing a larger role in supporting the profession. We’d better get used to another acronym: the OEF. The OEF and iO have agreed in principle that the OEF will become a charitable arm of iO. It will be more active than it currently is. But what is the OEF excactly? Well, they have a loan scheme, and to date (or last time the website was updated which is almost certainly not the same thing), 226 students have been loaned a total of £692,858 to pursue their studies. Wow! They have also made annual contributions to NCOR of £25 000. Where they get this money from I don’t know, but if you want to do an MSc but don’t know where to get the necessary funds, it might be worth giving them a call.
The Department of Health are thinking a bit – but not to worry
At a government level now, the Department of Health have identified six themes in regulation that need to be looked at. Tim’s opinion is that there’s no point worrying about things we can’t control, and we have no idea what will come out of this process, if anything.
The Three Year Corporate Plan
The GOsC got a clean audit report, everything is on track, and there was a healthy sounding surplus of £75 000 this year, which is in fact bigger than forecast. Next year should be similar and, of interest to all osteopaths, the registration fee should remain unchanged. Note that the word should is used, which is a modifying verb. i.e. this isn’t set in stone. (Yes, I have been looking at SATS sample papers and discovered a brave new world of education which involves deconstructing and labelling grammar to the nth degree; something I never had to do myself, nor will ever need to do in order to read and write, but which my children have to spend all day learning for some misguided test instead of actually learning something interesting or useful. Did you know they have actually invented NEW grammar solely for the purpose of testing it? What’s going on? Sorry about this rant but it is SATS week.)
Fitness to Practise Report
This is going on and on. 231 advertising complaints have now been received: 111 closed, 9 going to the IC (Investigating Committee) and in a pleasing bit of symmetry, 111 awaiting screening. The processing of these is becoming more efficient, although the nature of the complaints is becoming more complex. I’m not sure if this is because osteopaths are sorting their websites out, and it is getting more difficult for skeptics to find things to complain about, or if it is a calculated move to make the complaint process more awkward (by making it take longer or ensuring that the ASA has to be consulted). The complaints come direct to the GOsC, not the ASA, and GOsC are doing their best to process them swiftly while ensuring that protection of the public is prioritized. The Council was assured that serious complaints about professional or sexual transgressions are not being overshadowed by the need to get figures down so that the stats look OK.
Section 32 cases: these are non-registered therapists calling themselves osteopaths. I had no idea there was such a steady trickle of these. A few of them are osteopaths who simply stopped paying their fees. Some are osteopaths who are suspended but carry on working anyway. What happens is if someone stops paying fees, the GOsC try to contact them, and if they get no reply they try to locate them, and if they are still practising they will be investigated and either go through Fitness to Practise procedures, or in worst case scenario be prosecuted by the CPS for fraud.
Committees are Merging – this is more interesting than it might sound
I tend to tune out a bit when talk turns to the constitution of committees. It reminds me too much of writing dreary essays on the setting up of communist states, and besides it only seems relevant to the people involved. So by the time I realised that this discussion had legs I had missed the start of it. But what I picked up is that because there are now fewer Council Members to go round, the OPS and ERC committees are merging. (Practice Standards and Education and Registration, at a guess?). It will be called a Policy Advisory Committee and, despite some wariness displayed by Council Members, the idea is to have four observers present, bringing in different strands of thought. The idea is that this should ensure that the Council can hear the voice of a range of different perspectives, and let’s face it, there are many different perspectives from which osteopaths view osteopathy. So behind this Stalinistic-sounding reorganization, there is possibly an attempt to soften the barriers of antagonism and miscomprehension standing between various elements of the profession and its regulator. It will also help with cross-fertilization.
New Corporate Stategy 2016-2019 – the GOsC has healthy finances
I scribbled a few snippets down:
- There is no pension liability for Council
- The GOsC have healthy investments, half in a shares portfolio and half in bond. This was made to protect the value of a cash asset and both have appreciated in value and so this has worked. We have a strong reserve position.
- The GOsC has no mortgage, has not had to draw down funds, and has not had to use an overdraft. Now this is the kind of financial position I am personally aiming for.
70% of people are now using online registration. The key to this is that we now have self-declaration of personal indemnity insurance, which has made it much easier. 12 people have returned to the register (they had either stepped off or not paid fees).
WE own the new CPD Scheme – and it starts quite soon now
Fiona “Brains” Browne is the force behind this, but it has been developed BY osteopaths, FOR osteopaths. In an extraordinary change of heart, 90% of osteopaths expressed support for the new CPD scheme in the face to face meetings, and think it works well for them. It’s simple, supportive and flexible, and encourages osteopaths to talk to each other openly about their practice (something we all love to do), rather than incentivizing over-confidence or bragging. As an aside, apparently osteopaths have been cheekily creative with their CPD submissions – I would actually be fascinated to see a list of those rejected – but one mentioned was “sitting looking at a chair”.
For an unofficial run through of the new CPD click here.
Early adopters will start in November of this year – not long now – and mandatory elements for all of us will begin next March (2017). You can apply to be an early adopter if you’re feeling keen.
As a final aside, there is currently a review of the Osteopathic Practice Standards. Steven Bettles is an osteopath who now works at the General Osteopathic Council, and he really needs feedback. It’s no use complaining afterwards! Now is when they need your input. So please go to the website and make your comments here.
Next meeting is July 12th. They’re always on a Thursday, it’s always sunny, and osteopaths are always welcome.