The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine has welcomed the Health Department announcement on statutory regulation of herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners by the Health Professions Council.
Since the House of Lords Select Committee report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2000 suggesting a statutory regulation for herbal medicine and acupuncture, the government has worked to introduce such regulation for over 10 years. The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine UK has been actively involved since 2002 in the work conducted by the Health Department to impose statutory regulation.
Dr. Shen comments, "We believe statutory regulation is the best way to safeguard the public. The title of TCM practitioners, as well as herbal medicine practitioners and acupuncturists, must be statutorily protected to stop bogus people from using these titles - a real danger to the public. Thousands of Chinese practitioners have safely and legally practiced in the UK for many years. Many of them may not speak fluent English. While we agree that there should be a language requirement for the registration of new practitioners under the statutory regulatory scheme, a special exemption or transitional arrangement should be in place to allow those practitioners, who have practiced in the UK for many years but do not speak perfect English, to continue to practice under the statutory regulation. It would be unfair and injurious if these regulations force them to cease their practice and lose their only livelihood.”
Many health cash and private medical insurances now include alternative therapies, although some do not cover herbal and Chinese medicine. As these will be regulated from May, the main excuse of lack of regulation removes the main barrier to insurers reluctant to cover these treatments.