Industry sector:

Osteopath: Patient profile

Your market

Osteopathic treatment is effective for people of all ages, from babies to the very elderly and unless you intend to specialise in treating a certain type of person, you are likely to have patients of both genders from a broad age spectrum. You are likely to see patients with a variety of complaints, including:

  • back pain, such as scoliosis, hip, groin and pelvic pain, sciatica, muscle and ligament injuries
  • neck pain
  • shoulder injuries
  • whiplash injuries
  • sports injuries
  • infantile colic, sleeplessness, feeding problems and so on

Generally, your patients will fall into these categories:

  • those that have been referred to you by a GP or or other healthcare professional and are either covered by health insurance, will pay out of their own pockets or have the cost of their treatment covered by the company that they work for
  • those that are referred to you by a GP and are paid for by the NHS
  • those that have self-referred. These patients may be covered by insurance (some companies do not require a GP referral) or they may be paying out of their own pockets

According to the General Osteopathic Council in 2018, about 30,000 patients will seek treatment by an osteopath every working day. Over 80% of the treatments are self-funded, with around 10% paid for by insurance companies.

For patients that are referred to you by a GP as NHS patients, you will be paid by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or Health Board the GP belongs to, rather than by the GP.


Osteopathic treatment can be very effective for animals that are suffering from musculo-skeletal problems and if you are appropriately qualified, you may treat all sorts of animals, such as horses, dogs, cats and farm animals.

Cash or cheque

Your customers may pay you:

  • by cheque, debit or credit card
  • in cash
  • by electronic payment (for example large organisations, such as health insurance companies, that you supply on a regular basis are likely to prefer this payment method)

Discounts and special offers

You are likely to find that you will have to offer discounts on your normal fees to secure work from health insurance companies. The fees you'll receive for NHS work are typically set against a national tariff or a locally decided rate.

You may also offer discounts to regular customers or patients who will need a long course of treatment.