Osteopathy came to the UK with the foundation of the British Osteopathic Association (BOA) in 1913, and developed as a profession with the formation of a number of specialist training schools and professional associations, growing in recognition and influence. The profession was supported by the British Royal Family to gain statutory recognition in 1993, with the passing of the Osteopaths’ Act, and has been regulated by the General Osteopathic Council since its formation in 1998. The title of osteopath is protected by law, and the profession of osteopath is as first contact practitioner, to which patients can and do self refer.

The BOA changed its name in 2014 to signal the strategic change from a trades union to a full professional association, and relaunched as the Institute of Osteopathy (iO), dedicated to uniting, supporting, developing and promoting the profession of osteopathy for the benefit of patient care and public health. The iO is today the only professional association for osteopaths in the UK, representing over 6 in ten of the profession, and over half the student population.

In 2017 osteopaths were recognised by the national health service (NHS) in England as Allied Health Professionals, and the iO was invited to represent the profession in discussions about NHS Transformation. The iO is also working towards the gaining of a Royal Charter for osteopathy.