Sports massage therapists angry at lack of return to work date unlike beauticians

Therapists who provide sports massage have demanded to know when they can return to work after others providing similar services were permitted to continue operating or have been told when they can resume.

Sports massage therapists have been able to resume work since lockdown.

Physiotherapists have been able to re-start while beauticians, who offer massage among their services, will be able to re-open their doors to customers on 22 July.

The Scottish Massage Therapists Organisation has called for parity with these other groups.

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Chair Lorna Forrester said: “Physiotherapists were able to return to work after their professional association advised they could return in phase one of unlocking [28 May].

Beauticians, whose services include massage, can resume work on 22 July.

“Many sports massage therapists work within physio clinics, alongside physios, doing soft tissue work, helping clients in pain.

“As an industry, we have risk assessed, and have personal protective equipment and have been running Zoom sessions to make sure sports massage therapists know what is required of them, and are safe to return to work.

“We are open to the Scottish Government telling us if we have missed anything.

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“Any sports massage therapists working in physio clinics would ultimately have to follow the rules set down by the lead physio.

“We see no reason why sports massage therapists could not have returned to work the same as physios, osteopaths and chiropractors.

“Beauticians are back to work on 22 July and they offer massage.

“We do not know if this date will include all types of massage or just massage from beauticians.

“What we in the complementary and alternative medicine industry desperately require is clarity from the Scottish Government.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We don’t want businesses to remain closed for a moment longer than they need to.

"However, public health must come first.

“The Scottish Government’s strong guidance is massage therapists and therapy businesses should remain closed for the time being.

“The national clinical director [Professor Jason Leitch] has written to massage and complimentary therapy services to reiterate that.

“We recognise many people gain relief from their symptoms through massage therapies and complementary and alternative therapies, which are also an important part of the economy.

“However, as we continue the careful relaxation of restrictions, provision of close contact therapies must be justified against the need to protect the public.

“We understand this is difficult for many businesses, and work is being undertaken to assess clinical evidence of the risk of transmission for private therapies which involve close personal contact for extended periods.

“We will amend our official advice at the earliest opportunity, based on the outcome of that assessment.”

The spokesperson said physiotherapy businesses were subject to statutory professional regulation and had been able to open in early phases for the provision of essential and urgent care.

They said close contact therapists were unregulated practitioners so they were not legally subject to professional standards and codes of conduct under which they could be held professionally to account for breaching government guidelines.

The process to assess the clinical evidence for close contact therapy services was being pursued as a priority.

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