New Council to Regulate Alternative and Complementary Therapy in Britain
The new Natural Healthcare Council will be modelled on the General Medical Council and other similar statutory bodies.
It will set minimum standards for practitioners to ensure that therapists are properly qualified, and entertain patients' complaints.
The new council, whose formation has been driven by the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, will also have the official authority to strike off errant or incompetent practitioners.
The new scheme would cover aromatherapy, reflexology, massage, nutrition, shiatzu, reiki, naturopathy, yoga, homoeopathy, cranial osteopathy and the Alexander and Bowen techniques.
Of late, complementary therapies have gained a lot of importance in Britain. However, concerns over their regulation have also risen.
Any person can become an acupuncturist, homoeopath, herbalist, or other complementary therapist at present. Even more intriguing is a recent poll's finding that three quarters of people considered complementary therapy practitioners to be trained and registered by a professional body.
The new council will register only practitioners who are safe, have completed a recognised course, are insured and have signed up to codes of conduct.
Though the scheme will initially be voluntary, it is believed that all practitioners would get themselves registered to prevent their businesses, for the public will then be able to ensure quality of service by using the register.
"Although it is a voluntary scheme, we believe that in dealing with misconduct by therapists it will be almost as robust as statutory regulation, and as tough as we can make it. Suspension from the register will be the ultimate sanction," Times Online quoted Ian Cambray-Smith of the foundation as saying.
"It will be good for practitioners, good for patients, and even good for the NHS. If there is a complaint, the council will convene a board of lay people, plus two practitioners, to review the case. If it is proven, a second board will determine what disciplinary procedures to take," he added.
The council will comprise of eight members and a chairman. It will be financed by registration fees from practitioners, and will have a permanent staff, who are in the process of being recruited.