Editorials

Regulating complementary medicine

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7045.1492 (Published 15 June 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1492
  1. Julie Stone
  1. Solicitor Hempsons Solicitors, London WC2E 8NH

    Should aim for standards not status

    The growth of complementary medicine has been accompanied by calls for tighter regulation. These come from three main sources: consumer organisations that are concerned that the existing common law freedom to practise puts the public at risk; complementary therapists, fuelled by fears of European harmonisation and medical “colonisation”; and the medical profession, which is increasingly tolerant towards complementary medicines, provided they can be shown to be safe.1

    Until now in Britain there has been an uncritical assumption that tighter regulation necessarily means statutory regulation along the lines of the Medical Act 1983. Osteopaths and chiropractors have successfully pursued this route, and acupuncturists, homoeopaths, and herbalists may attempt to follow. The Osteopaths Act 1993 and the Chiropractors Act 1994 are significant improvements on the Medical Act 1983. They introduce, for example, a definition of “unacceptable professional conduct” that embraces professional incompetence (the medical profession has also now introduced performance review through the Medical (Professional Performance) Act 1995), as well as requirements for continuous …

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