Maintaining safe services: supporting you to make safe decisions about patient contact

Across the UK, you should be confident to open up your services and practices, and to see patients in person following the relevant safety and government guidance.

As an HCPC registrant you do need to do all you can to minimise risk to yourself, your patients and colleagues.

This framework provides you with a pathway to interpret national guidance and adhere to the legal, regulatory and professional requirements that govern safe physiotherapy practice.

Work through the seven factors below to help you decide the best way to deliver your service.

Legal, regulatory and professional responsibilities

You must work within the legal, 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.




  • The CSP considers the law and regulatory requirements and interprets the impact of these for the profession in a range of advice and guidance tools. We will endeavour to keep all up to date.


  • Demonstrate through documented evidence that you are compliant with Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) in relation to Covid-19 and your duty to provide a safe workplace in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
  • Demonstrate through documented evidence that you are compliant with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requirements in relation to Covid-19 and your duty to provide a safe workplacein the UK and Northern Ireland.
  • Put procedures in place to manage staff self-monitoring of Covid-19 symptoms including any need to self-isolate.
  • Put procedures in place to manage staff access to testing for Covid-19.
  • Implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that clearly demonstrate how you are:
    • identifying risk.
    • managing risk.
    • establishing a safe environment.
  • Implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to show that:
    • the clinic has a decision-making process for offering digital/physical appointments.
    • the clinic has robust record-keeping procedure for both digital and physical appointments.
  • Implement a system to identify which patients are in the clinic at any one time should the need for contact tracing arise.

Risk assessment of the working environment for which you are responsible*

To fully understand the areas in your environment that need attention, you should undertake a risk assessment. You should document this and demonstrate the steps you will take to mitigate risks.

Assess the risk of your working environment

  • Ensure your documentation shows the measures you have taken to mitigate the potential risks to your patients, yourself, and your colleagues.

  • Have a look at the HSE’s risk assessment template.

  • Demonstrate your clinical reasoning skills to reduce footfall and exposure using virtual measures where possible such as remote triage/history taking.

Suggested actions

  • Use appropriate PPE (see PPE section below).
  • Follow your government’s guidance on social distancing.
  • Consider how people enter and leave your premises.
  • Adapt your waiting room accordingly.
  • Consider installing screens and barriers at receptions areas.
  • Develop a protocol for when patients ask to be accompanied by a relative.
  • Develop a protocol for when patients ask to have a chaperone and/or translator present.

  • Place relevant posters in the clinic to raise awareness.

  • Implementhand decontamination facilities (such as hand washing stations and hand sanitiser).

  • Develop a policy and protocol for cleaning clinic rooms. 

  • Train all clinic staff in infection controlprocedures.

  • Implement policies and procedures for cleaning of phones, desks and other tools used by staff in clinical areas.

* If you work in people’s homes or a care home you may not have ultimate responsibility for your work environment, but you should still follow guidance on how to work safely.

Infection prevention and control (IPC) measures

You must follow Public Health England (PHE) Covid-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines.

Suggested actions

  • Develop protocols and systems to manage and monitor and any risks that the clinic environment may pose.
  • Develop a protocol for cleaning clinic rooms after every patient and other clinic areas as required.
  • Procure all appropriate cleaning products.
  • Provide suitable accurate signage on Covid-19 IPC for people coming into clinic.
  • Implement telephone screening of all patients before their appointment to ensure those with suspected Covid-19 symptoms do not enter the clinic to reduce the risk of transmitting infection to other people.
  • Train all your staff so that they are aware of and discharge their responsibilities in the process of preventing and controlling infection.
  • Put a system in place to manage the occupational health needs and/or obligations of your staff in relation to symptom management and self-isolation. 
  • Put in place appropriate hand decontamination (hand washing and hand sanitising) facilities.
  • Procure a sufficient supply of relevant PPE suitable for the clinic activities undertaken and patients who may be treated.
  • Procure the correct colour-coded waste bags.
  • Implement arrangements for the storage of waste bags before collection.
  • Procure appropriate services to collect and dispose of waste in line with current legislation.
  • Train all your staff in appropriate hand decontamination processes, PPE requirements and waste collection, storage and disposal.


You must provide and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and have systems and policies in place that govern its use.

Suggested actions

  • Consider how to communicate to patients the need for them to wear face coverings if they attend for in-person appointments.
  • Know the PPE that any non-clinical staff in your practice will be required to use, including for any cleaning that must be undertaken.
  • Know how to risk-assess for the correct level of PPE at each consultation.
  • Ensure all the necessary PPE is available and utilised.
  • Train yourself and your staff how to don and doff PPE.
  • Put in place appropriate processes and methods to dispose of PPE.
  • Develop and document a PPE protocol that includes all the processes and procedures for safe and appropriate management of PPE.

If you are working in a domiciliary and or care home setting

Virtual triage

  • We advise you continue to use the IPC screening tool at the first point of contact.
  • In order to decide whether to see a patient in-person you should could consider the risk to the patient, yourself ant to others in your clinical setting or the patient’s household.
  • Document advice and assessment findings in the patient’s clinical record.

Patient risk assessment and clinical reasoning

You should use your professional judgement to make reasoned decisions as to the best means of treating each patient.

Suggested actions

  • Identify if your patient is vulnerable or not.
  • Ensure you have the appropriate PPE to wear.
  • Ensure the patient is able to comply with social-distancing requirementsincluding for those patients who request a chaperone to be present.
  • Ensure you have appropriate infection prevention and control provisions in place.

Patient consent for treatment

You should discuss with your patient the treatment options available to them including the pros and cons of remote consultations. This will enable you to gain and document informed consent.

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