Bupa Osteopaths

Bupa Changes - Osteopath Information

What does it mean?



Late this April, Bupa recognised providers received a letter, inviting them to join a new Osteopath & Chiropractors Network. The only way to continue their recognition is to join this network, but the new terms & conditions will fundamentally change the relationship, not only between the insurer & the practitioner but also between the practitioner and their insured patients.

Current Petition Count

Osteopaths signed petition:
Osteopaths opted out of the new Bupa Osteopathy Network:
Patients signed petition:

Bones of Contention

The main problems with the new terms & conditions relate to

(a) Fees
(b) Extra administration
(c) Loss of professional autonomy

Although the issue of fees seems to be a problem primarily in areas of the country where it is more expensive to practice, the others affect ALL osteopaths, regardless of where they work.


Under the new network, Bupa are offering many osteopaths lower fees to treat their members than they are paying at present. Nearly half of all UK osteopaths practice in London & the Southeast, where both the cost of living & running a practice are much greater than in other regions of the UK. For this reason, osteopathic fees tend to be higher in these areas than in other areas of the country. It is in these areas that the greatest discrepancy seems to be occurring between what osteopaths are charging & what Bupa is prepared to offer.

Not only that, but patients will not be allowed to “top up” the difference between what an osteopath charges & that covered by Bupa. They are also taking control of if, and when, osteopathic fees will increase & by how much.

Extra administration

Bupa will require a report twice a year from each member of the new network that is, in effect, a written clinical audit of seven different aspects of your practice. Even more time-consuming will be, on demand, providing them with clinical outcome data. This will involve giving assessment questionnaires to every patient and compiling the data – a major research project in itself.

Loss of professional autonomy

Osteopaths will not be allowed to decide for themselves what treatment each patient needs, but agree to follow predetermined treatment protocols – “Bupa published care pathways”. You will also be required to give Bupa access to your patient records.

Although Bupa claim that they do not intend to interfere in clinical decision-making, the GOsC has raised concerns with Bupa about whether complying with these terms & conditions could potentially lead to a breach of the Standards of Practice (OPS). See the “Latest News” page for more information.

The full version of the Terms & Conditions for joining the Bupa network are available from their website here.

and an account of the potential impact of these on your practice can be downloaded from here.


What can I do about it?

1. If you are an osteopath please show your support by joining our online petition:


2. Encourage the BOA in its efforts to negotiate with Bupa Bupa by participating in their national survey of osteopaths’ opinions about the Bupa Osteopathic Network. It is open to ALL osteopaths that practice in the UK. See the “Latest News” page on how to do this

3. Write to your patients informing them of the situation & encouraging them to complain to Bupa (especially those in corporate schemes).

4. Spread the word. Talk about this issue to colleagues, send the address of this website to them by e-mail, Facebook, Tweet or use the add-this link at the top of the page.

5. Copy all the code in the box below and get your website manager to add it to a html page on your site. This will encourage your patients to visit this site:

6. Submit a comment to the Competition Commission about Bupa’s behaviour & how it is limiting patient choice. See the “Latest News” page on how to do this

7. Consider declining, or resigning from, the new Bupa Osteopathy Network as so many of your colleagues already have. See the “Latest News” about the massive response to “Bupa Resignation Day”


Writing to Patients

Bupa is most likely to listen to its policyholders as, after all, they are the ones who pay the premiums. That is why it is essential that we contact all our patients who have Bupa cover. Patients on corporate schemes, which provide a large chunk of Bupa’s income, could get the person who administers the health insurance involved. A few corporate schemes backing us would really make Bupa think again. A draft letter to patients is available to download from here.

A draft letter of complaint that can be adapted by each patient can be downloaded from here.

A poster for your waiting room, that can also be used as a flyer, can be downloaded from here.


Declining or Resigning

Whilst it is up to each practitioner to decide for themselves whether to join (or remain in) the new network, many osteopaths feel so strongly about these issues that they believe that it is not in the best interests of their patients to remain as Bupa “recognised providers” .A substantial number of osteopaths resigned en masse on “Bupa Resignation Day” on Friday 13th July 2012, and many more have joined them since. See the “Latest News” page for more information

Should you decide to join them, the most effective way of doing this is in writing to the address below. However, it is important that your letter includes an account of your reasons for resigning.


Dr Natalie-Jane MacDonald
Medical Director
BUPA Health & Wellbeing UK
Willow House
TW18 3DZ

or you can e-mail
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you, in anticipation, for your support of this protest.


  • Comment Link Jamie Archer Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:50 posted by Jamie Archer

    The issue of fees has never been my main concern in this matter. However an insurance company trying to dictate how an Osteopath treats their patients and runs their practice is alarming to say the least and would have had our founder I’m sure ready to fight the fight.
    I shall be resigning as a Bupa provider

  • Comment Link Bart Shonkser Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:14 posted by Bart Shonkser

    Absolutely agree Rosemary, sorry did not mean to give impression just a problem in London and SE. This affects practitioners and patients throughout whole UK.

  • Comment Link Rosemary Dartnall Tuesday, 10 July 2012 07:02 posted by Rosemary Dartnall

    People, this is not a London and south-east problem, it is national!

    The issues of professional autonomy and excessive obligation for documentation relate to everyone.

    Yes, costs are higher in the south-east, but they are not low elsewhere.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking this is a London/SE problem.

  • Comment Link Bart Shonkser Monday, 09 July 2012 22:09 posted by Bart Shonkser

    To anyone (public) reading these posts and thinking this is just about osteopaths grumbling about getting paid 25% less than going rate and 25% less than equivalent physio in the South East...it's much much more.

    BUPA have a policy called "open referral" meaning GP has to fill out form for "open referral" for surgery / osteopathy / physio...(anything), patient then chooses from a list of clinicians who BUPA have signed up to the restrictive & dictatorial terms and conditions (and fees) which may not include the specific clinician the referring GP or specialists wants that patient to see (or indeed that the patient wants to see).

    In London and S. East many clinicians in many disciplines (not just osteopathy) are being forced to resign from their BUPA contracts because BUPA is driving down their fees etc. Leaving patients unable to see clinicians via their BUPA PMI who are specialists in their field (including osteopathy).

    Furthermore, BUPA are trying to dictate the care pathways (no. of sessions, treatment protocols etc) from their call centre without ever having actually seen or assessed the patient themselves, thus further undermining and devaluing GP's and treating clinicians alike.

    BUPA say this is all about trying to reduce the costs of PMI and trying to reduce spend on treatment provision but cost savings do not seem to be being passed on the premium payers.

    Many medical disciplines and private hospitals are outraged by this. Not all Private Medical Insurers have the same types of policy, e.g. Cigna and WPA openly oppose BUPA and encourage clinicial decision making by GP's and treating clinicians. PMI providers should be trying to work with treatment providers rather than against them as BUPA seem to do, only this will ensure the best care for patients.

    BUPA have been underhand in their dealings with the Osteopathic profession. For years they continue not allowed the same amount of outpatient funding for osteopathy compared to physiotherapy despite Osteopathy becoming a fully regulated profession, following the Osteopaths Act of 1993. Then recently they gave approx only one month notice to all BUPA registered osteopaths to sign the new proform. They gave the impression the new osteopaths network / contract had the backing of the General Osteopathic Council and British Osteopathic Association when it blatantly did not. They said fees would be based on average fee charged by osteopaths but in reality they have rigidly offered a fixed fee at 25% less than going rate in S. East country wide, even in Central London where practice rents are very high. If practitioner does not agree to this figure then they are denied contract. BUPA have denied trying to price fix or cap fees but a leaked email from BUPA confirms they are internally attempting to do just that.

    By not allowing top up in fees from patients they are further restricting patient choice.

    Furthermore none of these changes have been discussed or explained with the BUPA policy holders.

    Patients and HR departments for corporates (not just osteopaths)need to complain to BUPA and The Financial Ombudsman.


  • Comment Link C.R.Berger Monday, 09 July 2012 21:19 posted by C.R.Berger

    Although not a BUPA provider I feel very strongly that BUPA's stance is an assault on patient choice and our professional independence and integrity.

    Of course the capping of fees to a 1990's level is absurd, but actually what is more worrying are the implications for a future where big business is able to dictate who we treat, what we treat and how we treat.

    The multi-billion pound private healthcare sector is dominated by pharmaceutical and insurance giants, osteopaths are mere minnows. We have been accused of being a cottage industry - well good - I would rather be part of a cottage industry than a vast and heartless corporation.

    If we continue to stay true to our principles and maintain our independence the patients will keep coming. The way BUPA is treating osteopaths and by extension BUPA members is beyond contempt - so to all colleagues who are resigning - you have my wholehearted support!

  • Comment Link Jon Wills Monday, 09 July 2012 16:57 posted by Jon Wills

    I have read all the posts from my colleagues and just wanted to offer my wholehearted support for this action. Having BUPA dictate to us in this way is totally unacceptable. I have phoned all of my colleagues in Cornwall and only 2 are going to register on the new network. I will be phoning BUPA to inform them of this situation and releasing details to the local press, so as to allow patients to make an informed decision about their future PMI provision. I will be writing to offer my resignation on 13th July and I will also email them. It is not too late to phone colleagues and mobilise more support for this action.

  • Comment Link Jane Barnett Monday, 09 July 2012 10:44 posted by Jane Barnett

    I'll be sending my letter of resignation to arrive on the 13th. As a practitioner in the North East the fee cap doesn't affect me so badly as those in London and the South East. Nevertheless this is an attack on all Osteopaths' autonomy. I want to encourage anyone who might be looking at the fee levels and thinking it might still work for them to think again.

  • Comment Link Robbie Grech-Cini Sunday, 08 July 2012 19:36 posted by Robbie Grech-Cini

    As a practice in West Yorkshire we are saying NO to BUPA, but we need to act as one body for it to have an effect- so MOBILISE! The fees suggested are 20% less than our current fees, but for some practices particularly in and around London it will cost you money to treat BUPA pts.

  • Comment Link Ben Medniuk Sunday, 08 July 2012 09:18 posted by Ben Medniuk

    I am writing as a quick response to the post by Meta Pike, whom asked about wether or not Bupa are chaning the conditions of provision for other Dr's and Hospitals.
    The simple answer is Yes they are, and it has been a major source of contention between them ( the Dr's etc) and all the other major Health Insurance providers in this country.
    I hope to follow up with more details in the near future, but for now I suggest that all interested parties look at the original links posted by G.Butler to see what hasbeen occuring across the whole Insurance industry.
    I am deeply concerned by the future ramifications this may have for all Healthcare providers and our relationships with all and any who may seek to take contracts with us.

    For the record, I have not renewed my Bupa recognition as yet, and currently have no intention of doing so.

  • Comment Link David Douglas-Mort Saturday, 07 July 2012 13:45 posted by David Douglas-Mort

    I Have been a bupa "provider" for many years now, but their new T&Cs are untenable. They intrude into the relationship between patient and Osteopath in an unacceptable way. My duty is to my patient, not an insurance company. Perhaps bupa might remember they are an insurance company, and I am the Osteopathic practitioner, not the other way round!


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