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Is acupuncture regulated in the UK?

In the UK traditional acupuncture is not regulated. Healthcare professionals can practice acupuncture after attending a weekend course.

In Canada, Australia and East Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Vietnam acupuncture is regulated and certain standards of training must be meet in order to practice acupuncture. Only regulated healthcare professionals that practise traditional Chinese medicines can practice in these countries.

In the United Kingdom, accredited regulatory bodies such as the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) regulate the acupuncture profession and are in favour of statutorily regulated acupuncturists of different styles of acupuncture. Members of the BAcC are the closet to a professional governing board that regulates acupuncture and are regulated by the professional standards authority. Some Chinese medicine practitioner are members of other working groups such as the acupuncture society.

Western medical acupuncture is governed under existing western medical associations such as the GMC. For this reason some insurance companies will only allow their members to have acupuncture treatment from a western medical acupuncturist even though they have just done a weekend course.

The time is takes to train in the different styles of acupuncture varies greatly, from 30 hours for western style to 3,500 for traditional styles.

How do I find a reputable acupuncturist?

As acupuncture isn't regulated in most western countries, people are unaware of how to find a reputable acupuncturist. Always choose one from a bona-fide acupuncture association, where acupuncturists have done over 3000 hours of training.

In countries where acupuncture isn't regulated, anyone in the medical, health care or complementary medical field can practice acupuncture after basic training of 30-300 hours, such as a weekend course. Its scope of practice isn't regulated or controlled.

In countries where it isn't regulated such as the UK, there is an increased risk to patients. Healthcare professionals with basic training of just 300 hours are often the ones who cause most of the serious side effects reported about acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncturists need only apply to join a accredited register which isn't governed by the department of health or secretary of state, such as the health professions council (HPC). Instead local authorities regulate traditional acupuncture practitioners.

Personally, I support the statutory regulation of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in the UK.