Osteopathic Council of Ireland Covid-19 Member Update

4th May 2020

Dear Members,

The OCI convened a meeting on Sunday 3rd May to discuss recent developments and the Government’s roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

A number of requests for guidance have been received from members regarding practising during the current restrictions. The OCI would affirm our interpretation of the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations whereby it was recommended that members refrain from engaging in face to face consultations with patients. The OCI’s understanding remains that osteopaths do not fall within the nature of services which are currently permitted to be provided.

The limited relaxations announced on 1st May and due to take effect on Tuesday 5th May 2020 do not have any impact on current permitted services and so the OCI’s position is not altered. Ultimately, the onus rests with each member to make the decision for themselves, taking into account the information and guidance available in the context of the unprecedented steps being taken to protect public health.

The OCI fully appreciates the frustration, anxiety and financial concerns of members as each council member is a practicing Osteopath. Given the Government’s released roadmap, we are currently seeking clarification on the phase that Osteopathy falls within and hope to be in a position to confirm this very shortly.

In the next week, the OCI will be assimilating the information from Trello into a Back-To-Work Pack – OCI Guidelines for Reopening. This will contain a patient consent form, telephone triage protocols, checklist for when patients arrive, guidelines for the clinic regarding sanitation, and PPE recommendations. We will update you as soon as further information comes to hand.

Kind regards,

Cameron Paulberg
Osteopathic Council of Ireland

27th April 2020

Dear Members,

Greetings from council, yesterday a meeting was convened to discuss our ongoing engagement with COVID-19. Below you will find the results of our **survey **undertaken last week, this information will help us address your concerns and form a basis for further discussion with our solicitor in the next few days as we seek to determine our path forward. Whilst in lockdown the position of the OCI remains the same, however we are actively exploring what a phased return to activity looks like once restrictions are lifted.

Going forward, the OCI will be giving you more regular updates as information comes to hand in the form of Facebook posts and an extra newsletter each month.

Today we will be supplying you with a list of PPE suppliers that we have sourced. This is for your information only, the OCI is not in the position to endorse any particular company.

I will be attending a meeting with the EFFO on Tuesday evening, we are hoping that we will receive clarity on the requirements of PPE in Europe and more importantly domestically this week.

Tomorrow we will be providing a COVID-19 Resources for OCI Members Board that all OCI members will have access to on Trello. This contains relevant resources and information the OCI has been drawing from, it will aid you to make informed decisions alongside policy given by the OCI. We will be adding to this regularly and hope it will be collaborative. Members can send relevant resources and information to the OCI where it will be credited and added to the board. More will follow tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Cameron Paulberg
Osteopathic Council of Ireland

21st April 2020

The OCI would like to give you an update and ask for your input.

As you all know the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, signed the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A- Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) Regulations on 7 April 2020. They were legislated to follow the speech given by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the 27th of March. They were to last until the 10th of April but will now be extended to the 5th of May.

The link can be found here.

These laws have given the gardai the mandate to enforce these COVID-19 restrictions. We are trying to ascertain where Osteopathy fits in this legislation and what a phased return to practice may look like. I have been in contact with, our solicitors at DAC Beachcroft and more recently with Hanna Tomasdottir of the Danish Osteopathic Association. Denmark and Norway are seeing a limited and phased return to work as of Monday this week. I must remind you that Osteopaths in Denmark and Norway have been regulated for a period of two years and were specifically stated as a designated profession allowed to return to work. We will be reviewing their 24 page document of guidelines and recommendations given by their governments for health professionals.

The OCI is looking at this very much in the context of planning and preparation. As suggested, we are seeking feedback from members regarding your engagement with patients to date and the appetite from practitioners to return to work, this can be done by answering a survey in the link below. Your input is important and will inform the OCI as we collectively navigate the profession forward. We would also ask members to be realistic in their expectations. The provision of treatment needs to be balanced against the risk of spreading/contracting COVID-19.

We will be guided by our own government directives whilst seeking guidance from Europe and best practice. Regarding PPE, this is very much on the OCI’s radar and we are looking to identify potential suppliers for use once the current restrictions are lifted and we move to a phased return to increased activity.

Please contact us via email or our Facebook discussion page. We will keep you updated. Stay safe everyone.

Kind regards,

Cameron Paulberg
Osteopathic Council of Ireland

29th March 2020

The OCI would like to address all members in relation to the announcement made by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday 27th of March issuing a range of new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. The speech in full can be found here.

The announcement states in brief:

…with effect from midnight tonight, for a two-week period until Easter Sunday, 12 April. Everybody must stay at home in all circumstances, except for the following situations:

  • to travel to and from work, or for purposes of work, only where the work is an essential
  • health, social care or other essential service and cannot be done from home. A list will be provided
  • to shop for food and household goods or collect a meal
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people
  • to take brief individual physical exercise within 2 kilometres of your home, which may include children from your household, as long as you adhere to strict 2 metre physical distancing
  • for farming purposes, ie food production or care of animals
  • all public and private gatherings of any number of people outside a single household or living
  • unit are prohibited. The virus might be in your household already – so don’t spread it to someone else's…..

The New Public Health Measures effective now to prevent further spread of COVID-19 contained on can be found here.

With regard to health services it states:

  • all non-essential surgery, health procedures and other non-essential health services are postponed
  • all visits to hospitals, residential healthcare centres, other residential settings or prisons are stopped with specific exemptions on compassionate grounds
  • pharmacists are to be allowed by law to dispense medicines outside the dates spelled out in prescriptions according to their own professional judgement

This states the following for health care:

  • Human health and social work activities
  • hospital services
  • paramedical and essential therapy activities
  • public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
  • laboratory services
  • drug treatment and addiction services
  • hospice services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
  • emergency dental practice activities
  • blood donation service
  • residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
  • homecare home help and other community services
  • social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
  • ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
  • minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities

The position of the OCI

Given the directive of the government to postpone all non-essential health services, and consistent with the drive to decrease the transmission of COVID-19, it is recommended that Osteopathic practitioners registered with the Osteopathic Council of Ireland refrain from engaging in face to face consultations whilst this virtual lockdown is in place. The OCI considers this an appropriate response as Osteopathy is currently not regulated by the government and not recognised as an allied health profession. If you choose to stay open, you should only be conducting remote consultations during the lockdown period.

We appreciate these are unprecedented times. As the voluntary self-regulatory authority of Osteopathy in Ireland, the OCI will continue to provide guidance in line with current government advice and directives, HSE guidance and in alignment with other health professionals operating in private practice, such as the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. We will utilise as a resource our relationships with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and the Institute of Osteopathy (iO) in the United Kingdom and the European Federation and Forum of Osteopaths (EFFO).

Should you have queries please do not hesitate to contact us via email or via our Facebook discussion page.

Guide for E health tele-video consultations

IO Guide to tele-video consultations

Below is a list of platforms however, is not an exhaustive list.

Please Note that providing this list does not imply endorsement

The primary concern for the OCI is for the good health and safety of both patients and practitioners. Take good care, we will be providing regular updates.

Kind regards,

Cameron Paulberg
Osteopathic Council of Ireland