An important update for members in Scotland
Dear Member,

We hope this email finds you well.

As you of course know, with the exception of some of the islands, the majority of Scotland moved to Protection Level 4 on 24 December 2020. In Protection Level 4, all close contact services - static (premises-based) or mobile - are not permitted. However, as the regulations for Scotland indicate that close contact services that are "ancillary to medical, health, or social care services" do not have to cease in Protection Level 4, we contacted the government for further guidance as to whether our members can continue to work under certain circumstances.

In response to our queries, the Scottish government directed us to Question and Answers for Close Contact Services on their website, where the following guidance has been published:

"The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 ( as amended set out the definition of a close contact service. The lists in the definition vary depending on the protection level area and depending whether the close contact service is premises based or a mobile service. It is recommended that you check the definitions relevant to the protection level for your area. 

"The definition of a close contact service that applies to premises-based [non-mobile] close contact services in Level 4 areas lists a number of services, including 'massage therapies' and 'CAMS'. The list also includes 'other services or procedures which require physical contact or close physical proximity between a provider and a customer and which are not ancillary to medical, health or social care services'. This captures services or procedures which require close contact, and which are not covered by the specific services listed. Where these 'other services or procedures' are ancillary to medical, health or social care services they may continue in Level 4 areas - this is to ensure that necessary medical, health or social care services, including care packages, may continue. 

"In relation to what 'other services' are considered ancillary to medical, health, or social care services and may therefore continue in Level 4 areas, the Scottish Government cannot provide advice in relation to specific or individual examples - it is for individual practitioners to ensure that any 'other services or procedures' they provide under Level 4 restrictions are legitimately ancillary to medical, health, or social care services. In Level 4 areas, we would advise that the focus of such treatment/care should be restricted to essential or urgent treatment of clinically diagnosed conditions where no treatment would have a significantly adverse impact on the wellbeing of the patient. For example, this could be treatment or care being provided in a hospice as part of a palliative care package."

In addition, they advised the FHT that, "the Scottish Government would consider good practice to be that a current referral form/agreement from a registered professional with an appropriate risk assessment is used in cases where services are provided". 

Based on this information from the government, our guidance to members in Scotland at this time would be to only treat clients in Protection Level 4 if they require urgent treatment for a clinically diagnosed condition and you are working alongside a statutory regulated healthcare professional responsible for the client's overall care package (eg. in a hospital or hospice).

In addition, you would be expected to follow relevant government guidance (including for close contact services ) and to have carried out a risk assessment. Further guidance can also be found in FHT's Preparing to return to practice guidelines

According to the regulations, sports massage can continue to be provided to professional sports persons (as defined in the regulations) but this must be premises-based only and not on a mobile basis.

To keep abreast of what Protection Level applies in the area where you work or live, please see Coronavirus (COVID-19): Local Protection Levels, where you can also find a a postcode checker

We hope you find the above information useful.

Kind regards and stay safe,

The FHT Team

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