Is acupuncture regulated in western countries?
In the UK, USA and most of Europe, traditional acupuncture is not 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.
In the United Kingdom, 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.
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 largely just done a weekend course.
Who can practise acupuncture?
In countries where acupuncture isn't regulated, anyone in the medical, health care or complementary medical field can practise acupuncture after basic training, such as a weekend course. Its scope of practice isn't regulated or controlled.
Why should acupuncture be regulated?
In countries where acupuncture isn't regulated such as the UK, there is an increased risk to patients. Healthcare professionals with basic training in acupuncture are often the ones who cause most of the serious side effects reported about acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture practitioners need only apply to join a voluntary register which isn't governed by the department of health or secretary of state. Instead local authorities regulate traditional acupuncture practitioners.
Personally, I support the statutory regulation of acupuncture in the UK and am a BAcC member.