02/03/2004

Regulation will quality assure complementary medicine, says Minister

Better regulation of complementary therapists like acupuncturists and herbalists will reassure patients that they are properly qualified, Health Minister John Hutton said today.

There are around 4,000 practising acupuncturists and herbalists in the UK - but they do not have to meet professional standards of training.

"These proposals to regulate the industry will reassure patients and the public that herbal medicine and acupuncture practitioners are not only suitably qualified, but also competent and up-to-date with developments in practice," said Mr Hutton.

Practitioners who meet the required standard would be included on a register and those who are not fit to practise could be removed.

The Department of Health also published proposals today to extend regulation to a wider range of healthcare staff, like therapy assistants, assistant practitioners and healthcare assistants.

New standards would increase patient safety and give professional staff the confidence to delegate more skilled work. The move is supported by Unison, which has nearly 100,000 healthcare assistants.

The consultations on both proposals will run for around three months.

(gmcg)

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