General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) barrister

Stephen McCaffrey | General Medical Council (GMC) Defence BarristerI am a leading General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) defence barrister specialising in healthcare law and defence and have gained an excellent reputation for representing and defending osteopaths facing GOsC fitness to practise proceedings.


I have gained a reputation for being “hands on” giving direct and realistic advice.

Because of my experience in the criminal courts and other adversarial tribunals my special expertise is at contested hearings. However good strategy has meant that more often my clients are not even reaching that stage of proceedings.

I have acted on behalf of osteopaths working in a variety of settings. My experience includes acting for osteopaths on issues of conduct, competence and health.

Contact me today for an initial free and no obligation consultation.

The General Osteopathic Council

The General Osteopathic Council has a duty under the Osteopaths Act to investigate concerns about osteopaths and to identify whether a concern is legitimate and needs to be investigated.  Fitness to practise concerns fall within one of a number of categories (or allegations) as defined by law, including:

  • conduct has fallen short of the standard required;
  • professional incompetence;
  • conviction of a criminal offence; and
  • serious impairment because of physical or mental health.

GOsC Fitness to Practise Process

General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) barrister

The GOsC carries out an initial assessment, called a triage, of every concern it receives to determine whether it falls into one or more of these categories.  This initial assessment serves to gather information which is detailed enough to allow a caseworker, an osteopath member of our Investigating Committee, to reach a reasonable opinion on whether or not the concern is capable of amounting to an allegation.

This initial assessment will depend on the nature of the concern. For example, it might involve an expert report if the concern is about clinical practice, or an assessment by a GOsC medical assessor if the concern is about your health.

The outcome of the initial assessment is then passed to a ‘screener’.  A screener will use criteria to decide whether the concern is one the GOsC can deal with. Concerns that would not generally amount to an allegation include:

  • complaints about note-taking and record-keeping alone;
  • vexatious complaints (these may include if the concern is trivial or mainly intended to harass or annoy, or if there is a personal grudge);
  • complaints that relate to employment disputes;
  • complaints that relate to contractual disputes; and
  • complaints that relate to disputes between osteopaths and patients about fees or the costs of treatment.

If the screener decides that we have the power to deal with the complaint, the case will be referred to the Investigating Committee.

The screener will write a report, which sets out:

  • the allegation;
  • the relevant osteopathic practice standards that apply; and
  • any further information that may be needed.

The committee meets in private and is helped by a legal assessor (a person qualified to give the committee advice on the law) to consider cases on the papers.

If the committee decides that:

  • there is a case to answer, a public hearing will be arranged before our Professional Conduct Committee;
  • if the matter relates to your health, the Investigating Committee will refer the case to the Health Committee;
  • there is no case for you to answer, the case will be closed.

Interim Suspension Order Hearings

In serious cases, where the concern presents a risk to patient or public safety, the Investigating Committee can impose an interim suspension order. While this suspension order is in place, you will not be able to practise as an osteopath. The committee can impose an interim suspension order for up to two months.

The Investigating Committee may also agree ‘undertakings’ with you. Undertakings are binding written promises that you agree to which will voluntarily restrict your practice until the final decision about the allegations against you is made.

Legal Representation

Throughout the General Osteopathic Council’s fitness to practise process, there is opportunity for osteopaths to engage and respond.  Early and robust engagement is often key to an early resolution to concerns raised.

The GOsC recommends in its guidance that “You should … get your own independent legal advice about the complaint and our request for your response as soon as possible.”

Contact me today for an initial free and no obligation consultation on 0207 060 1983 or



Contact Stephen

Contact Stephen today for a confidential free no obligation case conference.

Contact Stephen

Recent Blog & Publications


24 Jan

The performance review of the GDC by the PSA has revealed that the GDC is only meeting 3 out of 5 standards of good regulation in fitness to practise.


24 Jan

“Dishonesty" accounted for 23% of all SWE complaints. Read more about “Dishonesty in fitness to practise” and SWE’s 1st year as regulator.


15 Jan

Statutory regulators reaffirm commitment to consider context in any fitness to practise investigations considering Covid pressures.


15 Jan

The General Medical Council (GMC) does not usually investigate allegations that are more than five years old but does this rule pose a public safety risk?


13 Jan

The Rule 4 process provides dental professionals with an opportunity to submit their comments in response to the concern that has been raised.


10 Jan

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has confirmed no special take registration assessment arrangements for provisionally-registered pharmacists.