Why scope of practice matters

Once you understand scope of practice you must consider insurance, and the legal, regulatory and professional implications for your practice. 

Insurance and legal


All physiotherapists must have appropriate indemnity (Insurance cover) as a condition of their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Your CSP Professional and Public Liability (PLI) covers activities of physiotherapy practice that are recognised to be within the scope of profession in the UK. 

Separate insurance is required if you are not working within the scope of physiotherapy practice. If you are not sure whether you are doing any given activity as a physiotherapist.


There is an important link between scope of practice and fulfilling the legal expectations which exist for all health professionals. When working as a physiotherapist, you enter into a legal duty of care with your patients.

This means patients have a right to expect and receive a reasonable standard of care from professionals with the appropriate skills. A reasonable standard is further described as the standard expected of an individual according to their skills, job role and responsibilities.

To meet your duty of care as a physiotherapist all your practice must reach this reasonable standard and lie within your current level of skill, competence and training – that is your individual scope of practice

Regulatory and professional


The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), regulates the physiotherapy profession and lays down the minimum standards required for all physiotherapists.

You must work within the HCPC standards and your scope of practice in order to maintain your registration to practice as physiotherapist. Whilst all the HCPC standards are relevant, scope of practice is referenced specifically in these key areas:

Every two years the HCPC seek a declaration that you are continuing to practice according to the standards, and you may even be selected by an audit process to demonstrate this.

If called upon by the HCPC to demonstrate fitness to practice, you will be expected to show that you work within your individual scope of practice.


Practising your profession includes all activities that draw upon your professional knowledge and skills gained from pre and post registration practice. This includes not only direct clinical practice but also roles in education, management, research, policy and leadership. This means that your patients can benefit from the skills of a physiotherapist in new and emerging roles, as well as in established areas of practice.

There may be elements of your role or your entire role which may not be recognised to be within the context of physiotherapy (e.g. advanced practice roles) and you will need to clearly identify these areas of practice and whether they are within the scope of the profession or fall outside of this. The scope of practice prompt questions will provide you with guidance around this, enabling you to reason through a decision- making process.

Please also review the CSP’s guidance on advanced practice roles and practising your profession.

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