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Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

August 5 2009 at 4:10 PM
Sarah Head 
from IP address

4 August, 2009

From the Health Service Journal alert service:
"Regulation of herbal medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine will be considered by a public consultation that has been launched by the Department of Health.

Practitioners of alternative therapies are currently subject to no statutory regulation, an option the consultation will consider applying across the UK.

Health minister Ann Keen said: This UK-wide consultation will help us find the best and most appropriate ways of ensuring that those who choose to receive acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine can be reassured that those practitioners meet professional standards of care and safety.

The consultation has invited responses, which it will consider in its deliberations on whether there is any risk of harm to patients from the treatments. If they decide there is a risk, the best option for reducing it will be considered, with statutory regulation one available option.

Medical director for the Princes Foundation for Integrated Health Dr Michael Dixon said: There is good evidence for herbal medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the treatment of some conditions but, as in all healthcare, these therapies require properly trained practitioners."

The full press release can be foundhttp://www.dh.gov.uk/en/News/Recentstories/DH_103585 and the consultation documents athttp://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_103567

Notice that this consultation has been launched in the silly season with the minimum of publicity so no-one knows it is happening!

Please take time to read and respond.


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Anne Thomas

Re: Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

August 9 2009, 4:09 PM 

I am doing my best on this sunny afternoon to read through this with an open mind and trying to keep fresh and not feel jaded at this constant 'intent' by the powers that be to control anything that is basically already controlled by consumer choice.

My thoughts as I read:

Trying to push out of my mind my 'belief' that 'regulation' of anyone protects the practitioner more than the public! How many patients actually manage to be fully protected against the regulated medical profession? Regulation can never stop errors and can, imho, give a shield to hide behind when they do happen.

Re the consultation document: "It also asks whether acupuncture should be subject to the same, or different, regulatory regime as the other groups under consideration, and whether it should be treated as a separate profession or as an extension to the practice of existing and future healthcare practitioners". In my experience existing healthcare practitioners who 'do 'acupuncture' have not taken the full training and therefore often do not understand the very different underlying philosophies of acupuncture.

Reference to osteopaths on page 10 reminds me that fees were increased dramatically, and that whilst 'regulation' was meant to mean they were accepted and would therefore benefit from more support and referrals from the NHS, this wasn't the case. I wonder if things have changed any? Increasing registration body fees has the effect of putting up consultation fees and making it more difficult for people to afford treatments.

Aah - the lovely old sticky wicket of 'unproven or controversial' benefits as measured I assume, by the standard scientific principles (hum) raises its head on page 13 - and seems to indicate that where these benefits are 'unproven or controversial' more formal registration or regulation may be required as they pose a greater risk! Do we actually have any statistics about how many people suffer from these 'unproven and controversial' benefits or risks. In this document at least, there doesn't seem to be any figures re the actual risks.

Page 21 'the products'. I guess this is a key aspect that could eventually undermine the availability of products - who will be able to afford to licence an individually prepared preparation? I find the statement "a drug which is safe for use on one person may not be safe for another" interesting considering where it is coming from. Standard allopathic medicine usually takes the form of 'standardised' drugs prescribed more or less across the board. I have noticed increasingly that herbal preparations are increasingly being called 'drugs' by various bodies and I personally find this objectionable as it seems to me to creating a screen of equality in 2 entirely different types of products.

Later 'the people'. All of these risks take place on a daily basis in the very regulated NHS. And all of this still places an NHS doctor as the main 'controller' of the health of an individual and treats the 'alternatives' as secondary to conventional treatments. Herbs and homeopathy are main first-line treatments not my secondary. Again with premises - these problems are still very current within the NHS.

Page 49 'adverse drug reactions relating to herbal medicines'. In no way do I mean to belittle those people who have suffered these reactions, but there is a very big case for the NHS to tackle their very large issue of drug reactions for drugs that have been supposedly tested and are evidence-based. Also on the same page, doesn't the NHS operate in a commercially self-interested way, being directed by the hugely commercial pharmaceutical companies with massive self-interest.

That's enough for one day!! I know all my comments are negative re regulation and I don't have any positive answer to it, perhaps because I just don't trust the systems already in place to supposedly protect us within the allopathic system. As an unregistered reflexologist I take a great deal of self-responsibility in the care in which I treat my clients. I have no organisation to fall back on and my 'practice' depends on me and my skill, and my honesty.

I'll read more lately. It's very difficult to take all this in and hold all the various bits of information together.

Sorry - such a long response and I've only read one bit!

Anne Thomas


Debs Cook

Re: Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

August 24 2009, 11:09 AM 

Hi Sarah

Thanks for this, the HS council are currently preparing a statement on this very important issue which will be issued very soon.



Re: Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

August 28 2009, 2:38 PM 

This is all still very much on my mind, and I have just sent the following to the Conservative Party:

'On Friday 14th August, as part of a radio 4 interview regarding the American debate over a national health service, Andrew Lansley made the following statement:

"what we need in this country ... is the ability of patients to exercise more control over their own healthcare, and to make decisions about their healthcare, and to choose who provides their healthcare.

In light of the above statement, and in particular relation to the current consultation on access to complementary therapies, could you please tell me what your policies are with regard to access to, in particular, herbalism and homeopathy?

Many thanks'

I will let you know if I get a response.

Anne Thomas

Re: Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

August 28 2009, 2:43 PM 

As homeopathy is under as much threat as herbalism, and as part of my reading around to find out what is going on, I came across the following site:


I have forwarded it on for 2 reasons:

1. For anyone interested to participate in their campaign to help support the availability of homeopathy
2 To ask whether there are any similar websites for herbalism - or whether a similar website could be set-up for a campaign to support herbalism. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places, but as per the emails re lack of blogs, there doesn't seem to be much going on 'out there'.




Re: Public consultation on complementary therapies opens

September 10 2009, 1:07 PM 

Hi Sarah happy.gif

There's been a statement added to the website as per your request to council, there's also some info on Codex Alimentarius as well http://www.herbsociety.org.uk/current-news.htm the information is also in the 'News' section of the Members Area.


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