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Letters to the Editor Issue 180

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 180 - March 2011

Govt Announcement of Statutory Regulation of Herbal Practitioners

The Government has today announced the introduction of statutory regulation of herbal practitioners in the UK. Without this new regulation their practices would be outlawed from 1st May.

Extract from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Announcement to Parliament "Enabling Excellence"

"The Health Secretary ... announced to Parliament today that herbal medicine practitioners will be regulated from April 2012. The four UK health departments have agreed that the Health Professions Council (HPC) should hold a statutory register of practitioners who supply unlicensed herbal medicines to people to enable the supply of herbal medicines to continue after 30 April 2011. This will ensure that practitioners have met specified registration standards. Practitioner regulation will be underpinned by medicines legislation which will provide further safeguards to protect public health.

"Analysis of the 2009 consultation by the four UK Health Departments which sought views on the possible regulation of practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine will be published today [16 Feb] and available at "

Comments from Professional Organizations
The College of Medicine
The College of Medicine has welcomed the announcement of statutory regulation for herbal practitioners. It believes that statutory regulation is vital if UK herbal practitioners are to continue to practise and prescribe in compliance with new EU regulations. This decision will ensure good practice and the provision of safe products for the thousands of patients who visit herbal practitioners every year.  
The register will be administered by the Health Professions Council, the independent statutory body that ensures practitioners meet proper standards of qualifications, training, professional skills and conduct.  The move to statutory regulation of this sector is in line with the College's aim to develop safe and evidence-based patient choice.  Without statutory regulation, the use of traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda or other types of herbal medicine could have been effectively outlawed once the new EU Traditional Herbal Directive comes into force.
"The Government has put the safety and interests of patients first. This is essential if the UK is to provide safe and evidence-based healthcare choices." said College of Medicine Chairman, Dr Michael Dixon [1].
Professor George Lewith [2], College of Medicine Vice Chair and Professor of Health Research at Southampton University, said: "Evidence for the efficacy of herbal medicines is growing; they may offer cheap, safe and effective approaches for many common complaints. The College of Medicine values this pluralistic approach to care".
Kaye McIntosh, College of Medicine Vice Chair and Acting Chair of its Patients' Council, said: "Without statutory regulation many herbal practitioners in the UK would have been unable to continue practising and thousands of patients would be unable to make the choice to use herbal treatments. Statutory regulation of this sector is clearly the best way to ensure the safe provision of herbal practice."
Today's announcement is a result of Government research and public consultation [3] over the last decade.
"This announcement has been a long time coming, so it is now essential that the HPC moves forward as fast as possible with statutory regulation. The College would like to see swift, thoughtful and robust regulation that protects the public from adulterated products, encourages the safe practice of herbal medicine and enables the development of the profession." said Professor Lewith.

Michael McIntyre is visiting professor at Middlesex University, former President of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, a Fellow of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, a member of the British Acupuncture Council and a member of the Governing Council of the College of Medicine.[4]  
About the College of Medicine[5]
The College of Medicine is an alliance of doctors, nurses, health professionals, patients and scientists.  It is committed to patient centred medicine; and to improving the health, wellbeing and care of individual patients and local populations.
The College is unique in:
• Bringing together all professional groups including doctors, nurses and allied professionals as equal partners in care;
• Bringing together scientific evidence, professional opinion and patient perspective as equal partners in any therapeutic decision;
• Bringing a new and innovative perspective on health and care that includes the wider determinants of health and combines conventional, complementary and sustainable lifestyle approaches to healing.  
1. Dr Michael Dixon is chair of the NHS Alliance, and is Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster; Honorary Senior Fellow in Public Policy at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham; and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Integrated Health at the Peninsula Medical School. He is also a Senior Associate at the King's Fund where he is a member of the Steering Group of the Inquiry into quality of GP care. He may be contacted on Tel: 07970 067 884;
2. Professor George Lewith - Professor of Health Research at Southampton University and Vice Chair of the College of Medicine may be contacted on Tel: 07970 067 884;
3. Statutory regulation of herbal practitioners has had the backing of a report from the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee and two independently chaired Department of Health working parties under Professor Michael Portillo. Following the publication of the last report in 2008, the Government ran a public consultation that elicited over 6,000 responses, the majority of which favoured this Government initiative.
4. Michael McIntyre may be contacted on  Tel: 07989 301 963;
5. For further information about the College of Medicine visit  

Chantal Cooke


The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH)
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) today warmly welcomed the Government's announcement of the statutory regulation of herbal and traditional medicine practitioners under the Health Professions Council (HPC).  Statutory regulation will ensure the continued supply of herbal medicines to practitioners in compliance with new EU regulations.

Statutory regulation of herbalists has had unequivocal backing from the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee as well as two Department of Health Committees. It has been the subject of two public consultations, the last attracting over 6000 responses, by far the majority of which favoured such regulation.

Statutory regulation of this sector will enable regulated herbal practitioners to deliver high quality herbal treatment in conjunction with other health care professionals. The legislation will support safe and professional practice so that the thousands of patients who consult herbalists every year can be assured about the standards of training and practice of the practitioners they see.

Desiree Shelley, President of NIMH said "The Government is to be congratulated on making the right decision to bring in statutory regulation for all those prescribing herbal medicines. Ministers have clearly recognised that this legislation is for patients' benefit. The National Institute of Medical Herbalists looks forward to working with the Department of Health and Health Professions Council to implement this as soon as possible."                                                  

About the NIMH
NIMH has 800 members in the United Kingdom, and is the oldest professional body for medical herbalists in the world. NIMH has campaigned for Statutory Regulation of medical herbalists for nineteen years.

Without Statutory Regulation the future of herbalism in the United Kingdom was very uncertain, with the provision of herbal medicines and the right of professional herbalists to practice under increasing doubt.

Further Information
For further information regarding the NIMH please visit  


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