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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about appointments at the BSO

Where is the BSO clinic?

The address of our clinic premises is 98-118 Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 0BQ. We are very close to Southwark Fire station, and the 344 bus stops nearby. We are also just a few minutes' walk from Borough tube station (Northern Line). Click here for a map and directions.

What might osteopathic treatment be useful for?

Osteopaths are manual therapists (similar to physiotherapists) who treat the person rather than specific conditions - for example, an injury to your knee might also affect the foot, hip and spine. For a list of complaints and symptoms where osteopathy may be of benefit, please click here.

Do I need to be referred by my GP?

There is no need for a GP referral to our clinic, so you can book directly with our friendly clinic reception team. Once you have been examined and a case history taken, it may be necessary to refer you to your GP for further tests or evaluation before a diagnosis can be made and treatment is undertaken or if treatment is not possible for medical reasons. However in the majority of instances, patients are suitable for treatment at the BSO clinic.

How many treatments will I need?

Osteopaths do not tend to 'prescribe' a set number of treatments at the outset, but will assess at each appointment the impact that has been made and adjust accordingly. In most cases however, your osteopath will be able to give you an estimate of how long you might expect to have your symptoms and how long you may need treatment for to alleviate your problem. Some patients require only one appointment and go away with a condition happily resolved – in very different situations we have patients who receive regular treatment for long-term or chronic conditions, to help manage their pain.

How do I give feedback or make a complaint?

We value patient feedback about any aspect of your relationship with the BSO. Comments or suggestions are welcomed through the clinic receptionists or via our comments box situated in the clinic reception. If you wish to make a complaint about our service, we have a complaints' procedure, which can be accessed here. This explains precisely how to complain and details our processes in dealing with complaints.

How much does an appointment cost?

The BSO is a registered charity, with a mission to make osteopathy affordable and accessible to the whole community. Our fees are less than half those generally charged in private practices.

Clinic Standard Fee Concessionary Fee Community Partnership Fee
General £24 per visit £12 per visit £18 per visit
Children's £12 per visit £12 per visit £12 per visit
Expectant Mothers' £24 per visit £12 per visit £18 per visit
Sports £24 per visit £12 per visit £18 per visit
Chapman Free – all visits Free – all visits Free – all visits
Demonstration £30 – all visits £30 – all visits £30 – all visits
Evening Clinic £40 – all visits £40 – all visits £40 – all visits

Who qualifies for concessionary fees?

Concessionary fees apply to many groups such as the over-60s, full-time students and people receiving Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or disability benefits. Our clinic receptionists will be happy to advise whether you qualify. Please ensure that you bring proof of entitlement with you to each consultation so that our reception team can verify that you qualify for our concessionary fee. If you do not provide identification you will be charged the standard fee.

Who qualifies for the community partnership fee?

We currently offer community partnership rate treatment to groups, organisations and businesses with which we have developed a reciprocal working relationship such as:

  • Alzheimer's Society staff
  • Armed forces staff
  • Better Bankside Buzz Card holders
  • Carers Hub Lambeth/South Thames Crossroads members
  • Crisis
  • Emergency services staff
  • Look Ahead Housing and Care staff and customers
  • LTDA black cab drivers
  • Morley College
  • NHS staff
  • Salvation Army employees
  • Southwark Council employees
  • (TGWU) Momentum members
  • Members of The Young Vic Company

If you qualify for our community partnership rate please ensure that you bring your proof of entitlement with you to each consultation so that our reception team can verify the fee charged. If you do not provide relevant identification you will be charged the standard fee.

How can I set up a community partnership for my organisation?

We are interested in setting up community partnership arrangements with local organisations whose members or employees might benefit from our services at reduced cost. Please click here for more information about how to set this up for your organisation.

Do you offer free treatments?

Treatment is always free in our outreach clinics, where we provide treatment to people with very specific needs – for example, people who are homeless via the Manna Clinic, or older people through Darwin Court or Lucy Brown House. Thanks to the generosity of certain trusts and foundations, we are also able to offer free treatment in each of our clinics for people living with HIV – which run in our clinical centre (Chapman Clinic) and at the Royal Free Hospital.

We do also have exam weeks where our students are formally assessed in clinic, and when we offer half price treatment to those people involved in the exams. We always send details of these opportunities to our community partners but those appointments can be booked by anyone via our friendly reception team. If you would like to know when our exam weeks are scheduled, click here to sign up to our mailing list and we'll send you information about our clinical services, opening times and special offers.

Can I have osteopathy on the NHS?

Osteopathy is not widely available on the NHS. In 2009, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidelines concerning the management of non-specific low back pain were published, and for the first time recommended manual therapy (including osteopathy) as treatment within the NHS. Actual referral for osteopathic treatment varies widely by area and practice. It is always worth asking your GP for osteopathic treatment if you are diagnosed with non-specific low back pain.

The BSO is fortunate enough to have secured contracts working with two local GP surgeries. We provide a clinic at the East Street Surgery in Walworth for their patients, and we have a referral arrangement for patients at the Princess Street Group Practice in Elephant and Castle.

Will my health insurance cover osteopathic treatments?

Many health insurance providers won't cover treatment provided by student osteopaths, so you must check with them in advance. Where this is an issue, you may be able to book into our Demonstration Clinic, where appointments are with a qualified osteopath.

What will happen in my appointment?

An information leaflet for new patients has been prepared to guide you through your appointment at the BSO, and this can be downloaded here. A large print version is also available.

Your treatment will be carried out by senior students and supervised by tutors who are registered osteopaths. The student osteopaths and tutors will involve you at each step during the appointment, and will ask for your consent to proceed when necessary. Please ask questions, and if you are unsure about anything ask for clarification.

The first part of your appointment will involve your student osteopath taking a full case history which will include your medical history and current general health along with the complaint that has brought you to the clinic. In the next part of the appointment, the student osteopath will carry out an examination. You may be asked to perform some movements and the student osteopath may then move different parts of your body to see how they are functioning. Depending on your individual case, additional tests may be performed such as taking your blood pressure or testing your reflexes.

Once your student osteopath has completed the examination and spoken with their tutor, they will let you know what they think is causing the problem, and discuss possible treatments with you. Occasionally patients need to be referred to their GP and in this situation we are happy to write a letter as to why we feel this is necessary. This is normally only carried out with your permission.

There are many different techniques that osteopaths can use and your student osteopath will discuss these with you. You may be advised about exercises, diet or work posture if relevant to your case

How long will my appointment take?

If you are a new patient or it has been at least six months since your last visit, your appointment will last approximately one hour 20 minutes. Follow up appointments last approximately 30—40 minutes.

Can I request to see a male/female osteopath?

We will always try to accommodate requests by female patients to see a female osteopath and by male patients to see a male osteopath. For safety reasons however we cannot guarantee that the tutor supervising the student will be of the same gender.

Does it hurt?

A patient in a great deal of pain may find even very gentle touch uncomfortable. Osteopathic techniques range from very gentle soft tissue work to high velocity thrusts (HVT) to manipulate the positioning of your body. Your student osteopath will talk through different treatment options, and let you know if a treatment is likely to be uncomfortable – either at the time or after your appointment. You can then decide whether you are happy to go ahead or not. Your practitioner will ask your consent throughout your appointment before they perform a technique. If at any stage you feel uncomfortable or unsure you have the right to withdraw your consent.

Do I have to undress?

You will be asked to undress to your underwear if you are happy to do so. This allows the student osteopath to examine you globally and consider the relevance of different parts of the body to your presenting problem. Gowns are available if you would prefer to wear one. If you do not feel comfortable undressing then please let your student osteopath know.

What should I wear?

As you will be asked to undress to your underwear for examination, it is best to wear underwear that you will be comfortable in. If you would like a gown to wear, please ask your student osteopath. If you are not keen to undress, wearing loose-fitting separates may help with this – for example a roomy top and skirt rather than a dress.

I am deaf. Can you provide me with a signer?

We don't currently have the resources to retain a member of staff who can sign fluently on our team. Given our very low treatment costs, we also can't afford to buy in this support from external agencies. We are always happy to work with signers who come with patients who are deaf, but can also be creative to make treatment possible – such as writing out questions and answers, and using online resources where needed to ensure the patient understands. We do have a portable induction loop to use in treatment rooms for patients who have hearing aids with this facility. Please ask at reception if this would be helpful to you.

Can I have someone with me?

It is always fine to bring a friend or family member with you. If you need someone to help you communicate clearly or understand your student osteopath, it is very important that you organize someone to come with you who can fulfil that role.

English is not my first language – where can I find out more information about my appointment?

Our information leaflet for new patients is available in French, Spanish and Portuguese. If you would like us to translate it into a different language, please let us know and we will try to organize this for you.

When can I make my appointment for?

The general clinic is open for appointments from Monday to Friday 08.00 to 18.30. The first appointments commence at 8.40am. For a first appointment (as these take longer), the latest time that can be given is 16.40. Otherwise the last appointment time is 5.20pm. We are not currently open at the weekends. However, we do offer an evening clinic between 17.45 and 20.15, Mondays to Fridays. Please click here for more information on the evening clinic.

Our specialist clinics run on specific days/times, so please check with our clinic reception team for current scheduling.