Chiropractor legal issues

The following is an outline of some of the key pieces of legislation that are likely to apply to your chiropractic clinic.

What licences does a chiropractor need?

It is a legal requirement that all chiropractors must be registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). To successfully register, a chiropractor must hold a recognised chiropractic qualification. (These are offered by colleges and universities that are recognised by the GCC.) Registration costs £750 initially and then there is an annual retention fee of £800 (fees correct at February 2019). There is also a mandatory continual professional development (CPD) requirement of 30 hours a year for retention of registration with the GCC. The GCC website has more information on registration and CPD requirements.

You may also be required to obtain a special treatments licence from your local authority. This will depend on the policy of individual authorities and the nature of the services that you are intending to offer.

You should also be aware of the following:

  • if background music is provided in the clinic you'll probably need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd
  • if you keep computerised records of individuals' private details (for example patient records) and/or use CCTV you may be required to register as a data user with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
  • if you sell, advise on, arrange or assist in selling general insurance - for example health insurance - you may need to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) even if insurance is only a small part of your business. You will need to be either directly authorised by the FCA or an 'appointed representative' of an authorised principal

Registration with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC)

It is a legal requirement under the Chiropractors Act that all chiropractors must be registered with the GCC. To successfully register, a chiropractor must hold a recognised chiropractic qualification, abide by the GCC code of practice and take out professional indemnity insurance. (Qualifications are offered by colleges and universities that are recognised by the GCC.) There is also a mandatory continual professional development (CPD) requirement of 30 hours a year for retention of registration with the GCC. The GCC website has more information on registration and CPD requirements.

Treating patients

The GCC publishes various guidance notes covering particular areas of practice, such as maintaining clear sexual boundaries between the practitioner and the patient, claims made for the chiropractic vertebral subluxation complex and clinical imaging requests from non-medically qualified professionals. You can find out more on the GCC website.

Using X-Ray equipment

The use of equipment that emits ionising radiation is regulated by the Ionising Radiation Regulations and the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations. Chiropractors working with x-ray devices must register with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). You can find out more about the use of x-ray equipment from the HSE website. Remember that the GCC code of practice requires you to keep x-rays for eight years.

Equipment

All electrical equipment should be checked periodically by a qualified electrician and should have a maintenance certificate.

Licensing and planning

You may be required to obtain a special treatments licence from your local authority. This will depend on the policy of individual authorities and the nature of the services that you are intending to offer. If the premises you're intending to use for your clinic require a 'change of use', you'll need to get planning permission first. (While some changes of use are permitted without planning permission, changing the use of premises from another 'use class' to a health clinic - which is classified under use class D1 - always requires permission.) You can find out more about changes of use on the Planning Portal website.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a chiropractor

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • professional indemnity - in order to register with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) (which is a legal requirement) you must have professional indemnity insurance cover (of at least £5 million) and this must be in place before you start practising. Visit the GCC website for more information
  • all risks cover for your equipment
  • public liability
  • employer's liability insurance
  • loss of earnings
  • premises

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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