We hope this email finds you well.
As you are of course aware, England entered a national lockdown
at midnight on 4 January in response to a rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases across the UK.
The supporting legislation has now been approved by parliament and based on additional guidance that the FHT has received from the government, we can now advise members that until the national lockdown is lifted, close contact services should only be provided to support clients who have a genuine health condition/medical need that requires urgent treatment and cannot be deferred. This might include, for example, clients who have an injury or health condition that is currently causing them severe pain or mobility issues, or is severely impacting their quality of life.
It is important that members assess their clients' needs on a case by case basis, prior to seeing them, to determine if treatment is essential and appropriate at this time. In the FHT's opinion, it would not be appropriate, for example, to treat clients for health complaints or injuries that are minor or self-limiting (which improve on their own), for stress relief, general aches and pains, or for relaxation or preventative healthcare purposes. While we fully appreciate the importance of supporting clients for these reasons, the focus should be on treating individuals with essential health needs only, where the benefits of treatment outweigh any potential risk. For those who have less urgent health needs, please defer their treatments until after the lockdown and offer them some self-care advice or remote support to help them in the meantime.
We also strongly advise members not to treat clients who are clinically extremely vulnerable
during the lockdown, unless you are working alongside (or have a referral from) a statutory regulated health professional and your treatment forms part of a wider patient care package.
When you are treating clients in person, please ensure that you are following relevant guidance, including:
Treatment context, referrals and permission to treat
The government has confirmed with the FHT that providing treatments are essential and being carried out for genuine health/medical needs, and relevant government guidance is being strictly adhered to, then therapists are not restricted to treating clients in a medical or clinical environment and can work with clients, for example, in their own home or in the client's home. Needless to say, the usual pre-treatment checks need to be made to ensure this is appropriate, for example, that the client does not have symptoms of COVID-19 and is not living with someone who has symptoms or tested positive, and so on.
While desirable, and unless it is a requirement of your employer or where you work, a referral from a statutory regulated health professional is not essential.
Please note that when treating someone who has a medical health condition, we strongly recommend that members ask their client to seek consent from their GP or other health professional responsible for their care. If consent is obtained verbally by the client, it is important to make a note of this on their records. If the client is unable to obtain consent, for whatever reason, then ultimately it comes down to your individual risk assessment of that client and your professional judgement as to whether or not it is safe to go ahead with the treatment. However, you would need to discuss this with your client, and you must both feel comfortable with the decision to go ahead with treatment, and a note made of this on their records.
A note on ethical responsibility and evidence
We would like to stress that as a professional therapist, it is extremely important that you adhere to government guidance and regulations at all times. As well as being a matter of ethical and best practice, should your local authority question why you are working during the national lockdown, it is important that you are able to evidence (eg through consultation forms/client records and your risk assessment) that you are only treating clients that have a genuine health condition/medical need and that the treatments you are providing are both essential and beneficial to these clients.
We hope the above information proves helpful and thank you for following both the government and FHT's guidance.
If you have further queries, we will of course do our best to support you, but please note that we are not able to comment on individual cases/clients.
Kind regards and stay safe and well,
The FHT Team