Complementary treatments regulated

Press Association release:

Complementary therapies such as aromatherapy, homeopathy and massage are to be regulated for the first time under a single new body, it has emerged.

The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) has backed the formation of the regulator, provisionally known as the Natural Healthcare Council.

The voluntary body, due to be launched on April 1, will set national standards for practitioners. It will also have the power to strike off practitioners who are errant or incompetent.

Over the past year 12 such therapies - including aromatherapy, the Alexander technique, Bowen therapy, cranial therapy, homeopathy, massage, naturopathy, nutrition, reflexology, reiki, shiatzu and yoga - have been involved in developing the body's regulatory structure.

To opt into the body, each of these groups must develop the necessary criteria for regulation, based on national occupational standards.

About five of the groups are expected to opt into the scheme in the spring, with more to follow.

Ian Cambray-Smith, FIH health profession manager, said: "Regulation is about supporting the public and providing safeguards, rather than looking after the interests of the practitioner.

"The public will know that if they go to a registered practitioner that practitioner is safe and competent and have met a national training standard.

"If they have a complaint then it's a one stop shop - a single regulatory body with a single phone number - to deal with it. It also allows practitioners to say to their clients or potential clients that they have a kite mark."

Practitioners would also have to show they are properly insured and have signed up to codes of conduct.

ANH comment

Voluntary self-regulation might work and increase consumer access (and confidence) to natural healthcare. Moves to improve professional standards also should be supported. Conversely, if pushed in the wrong direction, it could actually reduce consumer access. Time will tell.

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