Osteopathy in the United Kingdom is regulated by a statutory body, the General Osteopathic Council, with whom all practising osteopaths are required to be registered.
All osteopaths undergo a minimum four year training course, and are educated to honours degree, or equivalent level. The depth of osteopathic training means that osteopaths are considered by the Department of Health to be primary contact practitioners, who can examine, diagnose, then treat or refer a patient as appropriate.
Unlike some other manual therapy professions, osteopathic students follow a similar course to standard medical students, as well as detailed anatomy and physiology of the whole body. Subjects include the study of pathology, clinical examination of all the body systems, concepts of health care and the philosophy of medicine.
Students are also required to undergo at least 1000 hours of clinically based osteopathic practice within the outpatients clinics of the osteopathic colleges.
After qualification, osteopaths are required to keep themselves up to date with their knowledge and education and must provide evidence of undergoing at least 30 hours of study per year to the General Osteopathic Council in order to maintain registration.
In accordance with Department of Health requirements, osteopaths in common with all other regulated medical practitioners, will be required to undergo a five yearly revalidation of their registration. This will be implemented between 2016 and 2017 and is currently undergoing consultation.