This article was prompted by a discussion in one of the Osteopathic Groups on facebook. There were a number of osteopaths giving examples of discrimination in the clinic. Perhaps you are someone who has experienced this. This article seeks to look at discrimination and what action you can take.
Equality law protects against 9 characteristics – age, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, race, and marriage.
Working as self-employed means you may not be covered by equality law in the workplace – this is a right of the employed. Employee rights are a grey area for the self-employed and it seems that osteopaths who are self-employed would be exempt although this has not been tested in the law courts. Nevertheless, there are still some rights for self-employed osteopaths under the Osteopathic Practice Standards.
Standard D17 states: ‘Uphold the reputation of the profession through your conduct.’
Standard D9 states: ‘Keep comments about colleagues or other healthcare professionals honest, accurate and valid.’
Hearing osteopaths sharing their experiences it would appear that there is some professional conduct that would be below professional standards of good business conduct.
Some examples have been:
Principal osteopaths suggesting associates are not capable of performing a particular technique or being critical of colleague’s skills.
Unequal remuneration between osteopaths of equal experience and contribution of effort in practice.
Inappropriate comments and innuendo between practitioners
Inappropriate conduct from colleagues
So, there is misconduct of practitioners towards one another but there are also situations where patients or tutors behave inappropriately towards osteopaths. Many practitioners have experienced inappropriate behaviour of patients towards them both verbally and physically.
What can you do if situations arise in practice?
First of all never just put up with unfair or abusive circumstances. It is important osteopaths take action to raise the standards in practice and rid the profession of any of this kind of behaviour.
Take advice from the Institute of Osteopathy.
If you are not a member – why not? They are there to help you in these situations and their advice will be invaluable to you.
When colleagues are behaving inappropriate you need to take advice how to handle the situation. Perhaps discuss the matter with other ostoepaths but be careful not to malign your colleague – be honest, accurate and valid in your comments at all times.
If it is a tutor on a course or at a college you need to report the inappropriate behaviour to their employers or the person running the course. If they do not have a superior then it may be appropriate to report their behaviour to their professional body.
If a patient behaves inappropriately you need to make sure that the patient is aware that their behaviour is unacceptable. The practice standards state that ‘You are not obliged to accept any individual as a patient.’ You can make clear to the patient that their behaviour is inappropriate and discontinue treatment. Maintain professional conduct at all times. You can advise the patient of their options – a referral to a colleague or back to the GP as appropriate but state clearly if you are not prepared to continue with treatment. Good communication is key in these situations – they need to be handled sensitively and professionally to enable a good conclusion for all concerned.
None of us like to hear about these kinds of situations and they evoke feelings of disappointment that colleagues behave in such a manner and anger that practitioners should be subject to any form of abuse. Being brave enough to stand up and take action may prevent many others from having the same bad experience as you, so please contact the IO and take action today if this article has resonated with you.