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Is acupuncture regulated in the UK?

On this page

  1. About
  2. Countries
  3. NHS
  4. Training
  5. Qualified

1. About

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

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.

2. Countries where acupuncture is regulated

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.

3. Does the NHS recognise acupuncture?

Yes, the NHS recognises acupuncture treatment in the UK. Acupuncture is used in many NHS GP practices, as well as in most pain clinics and hospitals in the UK.

4. Training to perform acupuncture

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.

5. How do I find a qualified acupuncturist?

As acupuncture isn't regulated in the UK, most 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, for example the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).

In the UK, where acupuncture is not regulated, there is an increased risk to people. 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.