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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) UK Practitioner Guidance

Posted by admin at 09:00 on 5 Jan 2021


The complementary and natural healthcare sector has played an important role, in supporting the health and wellbeing of people, including NHS frontline workers themselves, during the Covid 19 pandemic where appropriate and IFA practitioners are permitted to continue to work by government regulations as the IFA register is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), a UK body accountable to parliament. Below you can read practice guidelines:

COVID Practioner Guidelines.jpg


After last nights announcement, 04th January 2021, England will be in lockdown from 06th January 2021. However IFA Registrants may still continue to work on the same basis as previous lockdown

Based on the advice we have received and after consultation with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) Collaborative colleagues, we confirm IFA Registrants in England meet the definition of  “other…health services, including services relating to mental health” contained in Section 17(o),  Schedule 3A of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 and can therefore continue to practice in tier 4 WITH LIMITATIONS. This advice has taken into account that in Section 25E of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 practitioners on Accredited Registers, which the IFA is, are defined as engaged in work that includes the provision of healthcare.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided some general lines for Accredited Registers in relation to the new Covid-19 guidance and regulations for England which was published earlier this week:

You may only provide a treatment  IF:

  • The client has a genuine healthcare need – you must be able to justify the need for the treatment to ascertain necessity. There is no need for the client to be referred by a GP/ nurse/ physio etc, but you must show on your consultation form that the client has a genuine physical or mental health condition that you are assisting with that is causing them pain or having an adverse impact on their mobility or their quality of life.

  • You conduct a virtual consultation prior to treatment to gain clinical information to justify the treatment taking place. The treatment time must be kept to a minimum.

  • Your place of work can be classified as a place of healthcare services, e.g. within another permitted healthcare professional’s premises, such as physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, etc. If your clinic is licensed with the council as medical then your also able to work from the premises as long as it complies with all the COVID guidelines as before.

  • You may work from a home treatment room, but only if clients can access your facility without entering your living accommodation. You may not work from premises that are entered through a business listed as required to close (e.g. within a gym).

  • You cannot provide treatment to a client in their own home unless you have received a direct referral from a statutory regulated health professional.
  • Your place of work is COVID Secure. Login to the members area to access the IFA's ‘Returning to Work Guidance’, 'Hygiene Secure Practice Guidance', sample client disclaimer, notice, risk assessment and further additional resources. 

Whether you choose to return to work, or not, will very much be your own decision based on your personal circumstances, your client type(s), where you work from and whether working puts you, your clients or anyone in your family or home at risk. You must exercise the utmost caution and exercise your professional judgement in assessing the risks as the new variant of COVID-19 is rife and highly transmissible.

Alan Boswell state: “If people break the law then their insurance is normally invalid as they have performed a ‘criminal act’. If a therapist is working in accordance with Government rules then that’s fine and insurance will respond. If there is uncertainty on the Government rules then clarification should be obtained before treatments are undertaken.”

The clauses above is what you would rely on.

As each therapists situation is different we always recommend that you check with your local council and insurers.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced, as a result of the new variant of coronavirus being identified, Northern Ireland is in lockdown for six (6) weeks from 26 December 2020. In the absence of a response from the Northern Ireland Government and clarity in regard to therapists being able to work, IFA registrants must cease practising for the next six (6) weeks.


The First Minister has announced that, as a result of the new variant of coronavirus being identified in Scotland, mainland Scotland is in lockdown for 3 weeks from 26 December 2020. In the absence of a response from the Scottish Government and clarity in regard to therapists being able to work, IFA registrants must cease practising for the next three weeks.


On 19 December the First Minister announced that the new more easily transmissible strain of COVID-19 is present throughout Wales. The Welsh government therefore made the decision to bring forward the alert level 4 restrictions for Wales, however in the absence of clarity from the government registrants must cease practising.

As things are changing rapidly we will continue to do our best to keep you informed, but please note it is important to look at the relevant government websites to be aware of any changes in your area.


IFA Lobbying Efforts

At the IFA we are constantly battling the terminology surrounding how aromatherapists are viewed as an essential part of the healthcare workforce. This all forms part of a greater picture of to encourage the government to recognise aromatherapy as a key therapeutic intervention in healthcare. The IFA have stressed at both local council and national level, that the government should embrace aromatherapy to ease the mounting burden being placed on the NHS. We detailed our portfolio of charity projects integrating aromatherapy into various hospital and hospice settings and drew attention to various healthcare charities and NHS hospitals that refer to the IFA. We have raised key health issues affecting the country, discussed how these should be addressed, as well as proposing solutions to improve patient care. Our aim is for more equitable access to complementary, traditional and natural therapies for the general public and where appropriate, both within the NHS and outside. 

As you are aware, the IFA is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), a body accountable to parliament, which is the highest level of acknowledgement of the professionalism of the IFA. This accreditation applies to all those who come under our accredited register in the UK. This provides additional assurance that IFA registrants meet UK wide standards of patient safety and service quality and has also meant that our therapists in England can return to work during the current lockdown (with limitations). So if any of your clients are a little nervous about coming to see you during these uncertain times, you can tell them that you are IFA registered and explain what that means in terms of safety and high standards of care. To echo previous sentiments from the Aromatherapy Times magazine, it is really important that registrants reflect the PSA accreditation in your marketing. In the members' area you can download updated descriptors for your use. 

To represent our members interests before decision-making bodies and to strengthen the recognition of aromatherapy as a true complementary modality, we are also part of the PSA Collaborative working group - a community committed to high standards within health and social care, which provides additional insights and resources. Collectively, we have been addressing the powers that be in regards to the fact that aromatherapists are being grouped under ‘massage parlour’ rather than health worker, which limits and restricts the potential for our members to practice during these times and thereafter. The PSA’s colleagues within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have highlighted the potential for misunderstanding on this issue and is pushing for other divisions within Government such as BEIS to be made aware and to look to clarify this terminology issue. 

In addition the IFA is also part of the Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) and is a signatory to a letter to number 10 Downing Street asking for clarity on what will happen when lockdown ends and calling for Government to designate complementary, traditional and natural therapists as essential workers.

COV19 Risk Assessment Certificate Courses

We understand a lot of you have been asking about courses that will provide you with a certificate on completion to display in your place of work when you can return to work. Please see below examples of free online courses you can take that provide a certificate in preparation:

Government Guidance 

Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID 19 in close contact services

Further Reading:

For more information

To access the IFA's ‘Returning to Work Guidance’, 'Hygiene Secure Practice Guidance', 'Government Financial Assistance' guidelines, sample client disclaimer, notice, risk assessment and further additional resources please login to the members’ area of our website.