Editorial Issue 136

I direct all Positive Health (PH) readers to the Regulation Concerns letter on page 46 of this June Issue. This is an important communiqué, signed by A Concerned Professional; I can attest that the author of this letter is a senior professional whom I have known for over 15 years.
He is referring to the considerable correspondence published in PH over the past 6 months, which commenced with Dr Brian Beber’s cover feature in the Dec Issue 130 Evidence-Based Medicine: The Over-Reliance Upon Science in which Dr Beber warns Complementary Practitioners

“…the Government already has a mandate under the Health Professions Order of 2001 to compulsory and statutorily regulate health professions, and it is the author’s opinion that once VSR has been achieved, those who wish to replace clinical regulation with bureaucratic regulation will redouble their efforts to convert VSR to statutory regulation, under a group regulatory scheme similar to that currently being operated by the Health Professions Council (HPC), or the one described as a ‘federal council’ and proposed by the FIH.”

In the PH March Issue 133, Terry Cullen from the BCMA wrote a letter Therapists to be Regulated out of Business in which he stated: “Practitioners of complementary medicine and alternative therapies are sleep walking to regulation …Voluntary Self Regulation (VSR) means setting and achieving minimum standards of skills, ethics, disciplinary procedures and methods of treatment… The Department of Health became impatient and funded the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Medicine (now the PFIH) …to progress VSR …there is a move to introduce a remote federal body that would almost certainly destroy holistic treatment …the approach being considered by the government could seriously damage the profession. It would exclude therapists’ own Regulatory Councils and prevent input from their Associations, threatening at a stroke each therapy’s unique skills.”

Ian Smith from The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH), responded in the PH April Issue 134 to Terry Cullen’s letter “Involvement in the Foundation’s regulation programme is purely voluntary, participation in establishing a system of federal (i.e. unified) regulation is purely voluntary and those taking part in the work of the Federal Working Group have not had to commit to accepting the results of that work – they are free to walk away from the outcomes if that is the decision of their profession.”

In PH May Issue 135 Terry Cullen from the BCMA replied to the FIH “…a significant worry is that The Foundation persists in referring to the Federal Body as the Federal ‘Regulator.’ Regulator means control. In both their original idea of the structure .... and again in the structure suggested as a start point at the initial Federal Working Group meeting in January the VSR Councils, as created by their peers, have been removed. These councils were created by the associations and therapists (not the Foundation) to lead them into the future with a confidence that comes from working with them throughout the VSR development phase.”

Which brings us to the current PH June Issue 136, in which Concerned Professional describes  the Health Professions Council (HPC):

“(HPC) membership will be selected primarily by the Government through its Department of Health. There will be only a minority of professional members on the Council …non-professionals will be in the majority on the Council and its subordinate organisations. …fundamental issues regarding the work and policies of these professions will over time be decided by a majority of lay people. This is particularly serious in regard to discipline, where one would expect to be judged by one’s peers and not by a committee, most of whose members will have little understanding of or experience within the profession concerned.

“…What will happen if the HPC takes over and committees of doubting lay people sit in judgement on the recognition of Complementary practitioners. What conditions is the HPC likely to impose? Or will we end up with most of the existing Complementary professions being told that they can no longer practise in the way they are now doing, and restrictions imposed that give them little room for development?”

I acknowledge how busy and fractured are the lives of many Complementary Practitioners, who, for the most part, unlike their medical counterparts, are not employed in the health service as health professionals, and who consequently must run a self-employed business without much of the support and protection afforded other medical professionals. It is, after all, to gain the
status of fully-fledged health professionals that this entire Regulatory procedure is about, as well as safe-guarding the public.

Complementary Practitioners must not sleep walk into a Regulation model or structure that is detrimental to the valid and safe practice of their respective professions. I urge all Practitioners to lend their voice, support and become active within their own Associations so that each Profession can
control its own destiny.
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