Alternative therapy 'crackdown'
By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

It is estimated one in five people use complementary medicine
The head of the UK's first regulator for complementary medicine has promised to get tough with the industry and drive out cowboy therapists.

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

She said 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.

If that means that people who are not up to scratch are driven out of business, I will not cry for them

Maggie Dunn, of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council

It will not judge clinics on whether therapies are effective, but rather on whether they operate a professional and safe business.

To get on to the government-backed register, therapists will have to show they have the right training and experience, abide by a code of conduct and ensure they have insurance in place.

Ms Dunn told the BBC News website: "I think most of the profession is operating to good standards, but we know not everyone will be able to register.

"If that means that people who are not up to scratch are driven out of business, I will not cry for them."

There are over 150,000 complementary medicine therapists working in the UK.

Ms Dunn said she suspected 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.

Of the rest, some would just need a little extra training to make the grade, but that would still leave many thousands who were not good enough.

Regulator's standards

As applying to the register is voluntary, Ms Dunn accepted that some therapists might not put themselves forward.

But she said they would be found out in the end as "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."

At first the register will be open to massage and nutritional therapists, but 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."

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."

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Replies to This Discussion

exactly-->this is no way going to help the cause of evidence-based healthcare. if anything, it will further legitimize crap-based medicine in the uk [where it is already a huge problem].
I think not. They don't even give you diluted water as a medicine. It would be logical though. Tony Blah was a great supporter of faith schools so why not faith healers?
On the subject of that pratt: I wonder if he delayed his conversion to Rome on tactical grounds. He might have got a right bollocking from the Pontiff for starting bloody silly wars if he had come under the authority of the Holy C earlier. Politicians and priests, the worlds oldest professions.
The first prostitute in world literature is Shamhat, a TEMPLE prostitute, in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
My theory: early in human history, the alpha male/chief of the tribe wanted to stay at the top even when his powers were waining and there was a young contender on the way up. The smart move was to form an alliance with the craftiest man in the tribe and employ him to be Holy Propaganda Minister and persaude the multitude that Something Nasty would happen if they tried to disrupt the establishment. Nature being nature, something was bound to happen: thunderstorm, hunting accident, drought, whatever. So could the priest say "told you so. Even thinking about rebellion is a punishable sin. The young contender is the sinner. Cast him out." Easy! The priest gets 10% of the chief's income, second go at the young virgins and lives the good life.
Any other suggestions?
(Don't forget to check out my poetry site. Link on my page. Even greater thoughts rendered lyrical. Nobel comittee members welcome)
Nothing wrong with that. Mainstream practitioners must be regulated and meet certain standards so why shouldn't "alternative" practitioners?
Incensed about the CNHC's lack of requirements for efficacy or safety? Sign the petition at


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