History and context of scope of practice

Contemporary practice has developed a great deal since its early days but the four broad 'pillars' granted to the profession by Royal Charter in 1920 still hold today and the context of practice is very important to understand in relation to scope of practice. 


The four pillars granted to the profession by Royal Charter (1920) are:

  • massage
  • exercise and movement
  • electrotherapy
  • kindred methods of treatment

The fourth pillar, kindred treatment, facilitates the inclusion of related areas of practice into scope. This enables members and the profession to move into new areas of practice and respond to changing population needs, healthcare environments and the evolving evidence base, within the parameters of patient safety, patient centeredness and effectiveness.

The charter does not prescribe a list of techniques that are ‘in’ or ‘out’ of scope, but sets a boundary on physiotherapy practice that maintains the profession’s continuity over time while accommodating developments that occur in practice.


It is important for you to clearly describe the context of how you are doing an activity, including how you exercise professional judgment, autonomy and decision making in physiotherapy practice.

This protects the public by assuring them that they can expect to receive the reasonable standard of care that physiotherapists are required to deliver.

The CSP offers an insurance scheme to eligible members. This covers you for all activities within the scope of physiotherapy practice in the UK, but doesn’t cover other activities outside of this.

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