Recently Norwich South MP Clive Lewis visited Treat for a meeting arranged thanks to the Norfolk Federation of Small Businesses. Treat’s owner Rebecca Geanty, along with a group of Treat practitioners and patients, had a lively discussion covering topics ranging from better contact with local GP services to statutory regulation of acupuncture. (The meeting was live linked to facebook )
Outcomes for Treat included:
- A promise to put us in touch our local CCG for further discussions.
- Information about the local GP Federation where 22 local GP services are joining forces to make better use of resources and resources and collectively provide other services.
- The FSB will set up a Special Interest Group to help us connect with GP’s.
- Clive agreed to write to the Health Department to help with the Statutory Regulation of Acupuncture.
These are all good outcomes for Treat but, the question of state regulation of Acupuncture Practice in the UK is an especially important issue .
Treat Acupuncturist Alan Longcroft explains why.
“Here in the UK, we're on our own little island concerning our public stance on acupuncture practice. Whereas the US, Australia and the majority of EU countries both regulate and recommend the practice for acute & chronic pain and a variety of other health conditions, here acupuncture isn't regulated by the state.
Amazingly, in the UK, within a minute, anybody reading this could have a box of top quality acupuncture needles on order from eBay and set up shop as an acupuncturist as soon as some paperwork has gone through with your local district council to license your premises for the practice of acupuncture.
But please. Don't. I don't like going into what can go wrong.
Members of the British Acupuncture Council and the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine have minimum 3 year, degree level acupuncture training and adhere to strict codes of safe practice and professional conduct, so you can be confident you are receiving the highest standards in acupuncture practice from members of these organisations. But, since there is no regulation of acupuncture practice in the UK, the majority of acupuncture providers here have attended only short courses in acupuncture training, even as little as a weekend.
When you are offered acupuncture by a healthcare professional, it is unlikely that they have more than minimal training.
This is a problem. We see major adverse incidents from acupuncture malpractice - things can go badly wrong. Here’s a couple of examples:
In 2013 composer Andrew Lloyd Webber experienced lasting intense, burning pain after receiving acupuncture from his osteopath where a deep acupuncture technique punctured a vein which bled into his sciatic nerve.
In 2014, dry needling instructor Dr M. Cummings documented a case of pneumothorax (punctured lung) in the British Medical Journal during a Deep Dry Needling (DDN) instructional demonstration, accompanied by the live video (see below) which was being taken during the dry needling training course. It's pure dramatic irony that the dry needling instructor was demonstrating how to avoid pneumothorax when this critical adverse event occurred, although it was a great act of humility to publicly document the event like this for educational purposes.
Training times range from a minimum of 30 hours for the British Medical Acupuncture Society, 300 hours for the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP): to 3500 with 150 hours of hands on needling time for those training with the British Acupuncture Council
While I’m confident about the abilities of several individual colleagues who practice acupuncture under the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), who have a minimum training requirement of 6 months, the gap between this and the minimum of 3 years set by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB) is too great guarantee patient safety.
This gambles the long term health of patients seeking treatment for a medical complaint, just because a suitable minimum standard has never been set by the Government.