The Advertising Standards Authority

Since 2012 the information that osteopaths can give the public on websites has been regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).  The ASA Council comprises lawyers, men of letters like Sir Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, and industrialists like Alan Bookbinder, Director of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. There is no suitably qualified medical representation and there is no osteopathic guidance. They do not state where their description or understanding of osteopathy comes from and have not consulted the profession about what osteopathy is.  That should normally be expected to be a prerequisite.   

The ASA Council holds its deliberations in secret; no-one is allowed to attend meetings to discuss issues directly with them. They have a ‘copy advice team’ for public access but the copy advice team are not empowered to negotiate, discuss or make decisions.  They are only empowered to relay what they are told by the Council. It presents a system of Dickensian circumlocution.

The ASA states that objective claims that we treat medical conditions must be backed by "robust scientific evidence, such as clinical trials conducted on people”. These trials require huge resources, taking many years to perform, involving hundreds of people and costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. In practice this type of research can only be afforded by drug companies, and they don't do it if they can't make money from it!  Further, to put trials into context, according to Clinical Evidence published by the BMJ in 2011, only 13% of conventional medical practice for back pain has been shown to be beneficial by robust evidence, with only a further 23% likely to be beneficial. Half of medical practice for back pain was not substantiated by evidence at all. Even 3% was considered to be ineffective or harmful. Nevertheless, the Advertising Standards Authority accepts only that osteopaths may claim to help only a limited range of minor orthopaedic conditions, which is not descriptive of osteopathy. Consequently, to comply with current requirements we make the following statement:

We do not say, or even infer or imply, that we treat any of the conditions mentioned on this site and it should not be interpreted by readers to believe that we do. The list of medical conditions on the site does not imply or infer that osteopathic treatment is effective for them. The information on the site should not be interpreted by readers that we can alleviate effectively any condition, symptom, disease, injury, ailment or adverse condition. As already stated (see What is Osteopathy?), we do not treat conditions, rather we are concerned with that which has compromised health.  Hence, we offer for information only some of the names of conditions which patients have used when they come to see us, nothing more.  Further, to make this absolutely clear, all the conditions quoted on this website are for information only, to help people make their own investigations.  It should not be taken to imply or give the general impression that we can help with any of the conditions mentioned.

Some people choose to consult their osteopath first because they prefer the osteopathic approach. In our opinion the public should have that choice. Osteopathy can offer patients choice in their health care that is not readily available within the conventional system. It is of concern if people are denied the opportunity to come to an informed opinion about choices that are available in their personal health care.

For further information see: