Where may I advertise my practice?

You may advertise anywhere as long as the advertisement is honest, professional and accurate.

May 2011

How do I respond to companies offering special advertising of promotional opportunities?

It is clear that Physio First members continue to be targeted by companies offering special advertising or promotional opportunities. These may take the form of television advertising, privilege cards, international directories, high profiling on search engines etc. and whilst some of these will be above board and represent reasonable value for money, the majority are little more than trick schemes designed to part you from your money.

Questions to satisfy yourself about before you sign any papers or commit yourself are;

  • Am I committing myself for a long time?

  • What proof is being provided that it will work?

  • What recourse have I got if a third party e.g. a GP decides not to show a video or display leaflets?

  • The advert or entry appears to be free, is it, or is there, a hidden charge? Have you actually seen a previous copy of the publication?

  • Can I talk to previous advertisers?

  • How quickly will the publication be produced?

If the sale is completed via the telephone the contract is deemed to be between two businesses. This is no cooling off period.

Physio First periodically issues alerts to members on scams so keep your email contact up to date. See also the FAQ in membership & benefits scams and Physio First members. If in doubt, contact Physio First.

May 2011

Am I able to advertise other services in my practice?

Having considered the problem of increasing overtures to members to advertise services within their practice in the context of rule seven of the CSP Rules of Professional Conduct, the executive an main committee have produced a policy statement and standard response. This position is being communicated to the CSP with a request that some or all of it be included in the notes to rule seven in the next published edition of the rules.

Essentially the problem is that there are increasing solicitations from solicitors, advertising agencies and intermediaries to members, who ask them to do a number of things based upon the fact that accident victims are likely to attend for treatment and are therefore a good vehicle for advertising their services.

Requests from anyone to an MCSP to refer a patient for a commission (often as much as 150 per patient) is easily dealt with as it would be a clear breach of rule seven. A request to carry an advertisement for a solicitor or legal service for example, is more problematic.

The potential rule seven problem arises if the MCSP refers the patient to the advertisement or the firm or company advertised there. Such reference could constitute a clear breach of rule seven.

The danger for breaching rule seven becomes even more pronounced if the patient asks the MCSP what they think of the firm or company who are advertising in their practice.

By way of illustration, if the response is frankly I have no idea they just advertise here, then there is unlikely to be a problem.

If however the response is an endorsement of the advertiser, a response that could range from They offer a superb service in that they have a good reputation and act for many clients like you to They acted for me in my accident and they were great then this would be a probable breach. In the former response how can an MCSP make a judgement about the quality of the advertiser and even in the latter case, an MCSP may have personal experience of an individual doing a good job for them, but they are in no position to endorse the whole firm of company. Even more compelling is the fact that such an endorsement or promotion of the service to a patient arguably always exploits the professional relationship with a patient.

May 2011

What can I do if another physiotherapy practice sets up in close proximity to mine?

There is nothing to prevent anyone setting up a private practice near to one that is already existing - if there were any such rule, it would be a breach of the anti-competitive legislation.

The only restrictions that can be applied to anyone contemplating setting up a practice within close proximity are those that have been agreed to within a contract not to do so, i.e. where the person who is proposing to set up the practice either was employed by or was a self-employed associate of the person with the established practice. These tend to be called "restrictive covenants" and they usually have to be "reasonable in time and area" to be enforceable. To determine what is reasonable, one needs to take individual legal advice.

If you find that someone has set up a new practice close by (or if you are proposing to set up a practice close to other Physio First members) here are a few points to consider;

  • There are real advantages in trying to meet to discuss future plans and existing services as there may be opportunities for collaboration, locuming, etc

Even if there are no such opportunities;

  • It is often best to meet the competition, as finding out that they too are a real person who is not necessarily out to damage your business, is helpful

  • Finding out that they are helpful too!

  • They may not be useful in the short-term but they may have potential use in the longer term e.g. they could be a candidate to buy or sell your practice to

  • Remember examining the "competition" is a business fundamental and so all informaiton gathered should help inform the steps you can take to continue to be succesful in such a situation.

 

May 2011

What is the current position regarding the ASA problem?

Physio First have reported (Update Newsletter, May11, p6) that the ASA has, since March 2011, been policing marketing messages online. This has raised some serious issues.

In short your concerns are exactly the same as those of your executive committee and so far there is no easy solution.

This is an anomaly of epic proportions and it faces many professions not just chiros, osteos, acupuncturists and physios.

At the moment members of your executive committee and your General Secretary are engaged with the CSP in order to try to work up a strategy to address this but it could be one of the biggest fights that the profession has ever had.

Bottom line there is no solution to your (and everyone elses) problem and if the ASA respond to a complaint about your or our website and ask you or anyone to remove what they regard as inappropriate, short of being a test case and ultimately being prepared to face prosecution over the principle, there is no silver bullet solution other than to comply.

For the time being all we can say is that the prosecution policy of the ASA is to send out a letter advising the transgressor to remove offending materials to avoid them taking action. If done, then that appeases them and no further action is taken.

Of course for the ASA to know about it, there would have to have been a complaint.

It is a complex and difficult problem to resolve and we are in the throes of trying to address it now, but it will not be easy.

If you wish to discuss this further then please do contact Paul Donnelly our General Secretary on 01202 417 627 or general.secretary@physiofirst.org.uk

1 August 2011