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Crackdown on Alternative Therapy

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 Crackdown on Alternative Therapy

Nick Triggle of the BBC (19 01 09) reports that the head of the UK’s first regulator for complementary medicine has promised to get tough with the industry and drive out cowboy therapists.

The Co-Chairperson of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), Maggie Dunn said it was time customers were given proper assurances.

Dunn says the regulator, which is being launched on Monday, would clean up the industry used by one in five people.

And she estimated thousands of clinics may go out of business in the process.

The main plank of the council’s work will be to operate a register of practitioners.

Notwithstanding, there will be no judgement on the clinics as to their effectiveness, simply to establish whether the business if both professional and safe.

Therapists will have to demonstrate thwt they can provide correct training and experience. Ethically, they will have to abide by a code of conduct ensuring the provision of adequate insurance.

Ms Dunn informed the BBC News that most of the profession is operating to good standards, but we know not everyone will be able to register. In addition she adds, most of the profession is operating to good standards, but we know not everyone will be able to register.

With reference to the report, there are in excess of 150,000 complementary medicine practices with the UK. She suggested that between half and two thirds of them would make it on to the register which would allow them to use the regulator logo on literature and display in shops.

With reference to the rest, some would require further training whilst others would never be good enough to make the criteria.

The register is on a voluntary basis and from that point of view it is limited. This is because some therapists will fail to put themselves on the register.

Ms Dunn argues that this will invariably right itself within the context of a year “within a year or so” customers will be looking to only use therapists who have met the regulator’s standards.

Ms Dunn said: “It won’t take long for customers to starting asking whether a practitioner is registered or searching on our website for ones that are.

“They will then vote with their feet.”

It is understood that at initially the register will be open to massage and nutritional therapists. As time progresses, in the coming months it will be rolled out to areas such as aromatherapy, reflexology and homeopathy.

“It is easy to think these are all low-risk specialities, but I know someone who had a rib broken by a masseur so it is important we have proper regulation.”

However Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter’s Peninsula Medical School, said: “There does need to be more rigour in the regulation of complementary medicine as there will certainly be cowboys out there.

“However, I have concerns that the regulator does not have mandatory powers and is not looking at the efficacy of these therapies.”

Health minister Ben Bradshaw welcomed the establishment of the CNHC.

“Members of the public who use these therapies will be able to check whether the practitioner they’re seeing is registered with the CNHC,” he said.

“If they are, they have the reassurance of knowing that they have had to meet minimum standards of qualification and that they have signed up to a rigorous code of conduct.

“Practitioners too will benefit by increased public confidence.”

Ben Bradshaw the Health minister has welcomed the decision, therapists will have to pay £45.00 per annum to register.

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