Understanding scope of practice

Scope of practice describes the breadth of activities currently carried out by the profession, as well as the activities of individual physiotherapists. Your scope of practice must be within the scope of the profession and within your personal scope as a physiotherapist.

Scope of the profession

The scope of practice of physiotherapy is any activity undertaken by a physiotherapist that 'may be situated within' the four pillars of physiotherapy practice.

These activities should be linked to existing or emerging occupational and/or practice frameworks acknowledged by the profession, and be supported by a body of evidence.

It also encompasses any activity addressing human movement, performance, prevention of injury and restoration of function in the widest of health and wellbeing contexts, while using appropriate professional judgment and decision making skills.

This means it is the collective practice of all physiotherapists that actually define the profession as a whole, and means the profession can respond to current and emerging health and wellbeing needs.

It is your responsibility to practice only in those areas in which you are safe and competent and can demonstrate this. This is an individual’s scope of practice, which sits within the scope of the UK profession.

Your CSP Professional and Public Liability Insurance (PLI) provides cover for all activities that are clearly recognised as having a physiotherapeutic purpose i.e. that are in the scope.

Your individual scope of practice

Your individual scope of practice describes the physiotherapy work that you are educated, trained and competent to carry out. This will be unique to you and is influenced by your career, experience and development. 

Understanding your individual scope of practice is critical to ensure your physiotherapy work is safe and effective, in line with the HCPC’s expectations of all Physiotherapists.

The key standards relevant to your practice as Physiotherapist are:

The HCPC don’t prescribe how you achieve competence and therefore maintain and evolve your individual scope of practice but do expect you to engage in Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

There is currently one exception, which is that any registrant who considers prescribing to be within their individual scope, must have undergone an accredited post-registration qualification and therefore gained an annotation on the HCPC register.