Understanding the cornerstones of physiotherapy practice

It is important that you understand the legislative, regulatory and professional frameworks that guide the safe management of patients, the safety of the wider public, and everyone who works in the practice environment for which you are responsible. 

Graphic displaying the cornerstones of physiotherapy practice: legislative, regulatory, workplace and professional

We can think about these cornerstones, or frameworks, under four headings:

  • Legislative
  • Regulatory
  • Workplace
  • Professional


The law of the land overarches everything we do. You must always start by considering your legal obligations and reflect on the underpinning legislation for the ‘thing’ you are considering. The law sets the boundaries for what can and cannot be done within society.


The HCPC considers the national legal, regulatory and policy landscape and publishes guidance accordingly. Regulators have powers to impose fines or penalties, or restrict your ability to practise.

Regulation and its associated framework is borne out of the legal framework for a country. It develops a more specialist focus on controlling particular parts of the law.

The HCPC controls who can practise with a given protected title, and what standards that person must uphold to remain registered. This is why it is fundamentally important to know HCPC requirements and to apply them.


The workplace framework considers legal and regulatory obligations, and develops guidance, advice and rules which are set out in contracts, job descriptions, policies and procedures.


An integrated trade union, professional and educational body, the CSP considers the law and regulatory requirements and interprets the impact of these for the profession in a range of advice, guidance and other services. At times the CSP will lobby and influence the development of law or secondary legislation and regulation based on our knowledge of the profession.  

The CSP’s advice and guidance is designed to apply the law and regulatory requirements to specific physiotherapy scenarios to enable members to understand their responsibilities.

Where there is a range of ways to apply the law or regulatory requirements, the CSP will set out a framework to support individuals and organisations to reach appropriate decisions for their circumstances.

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