CLEAR News - Winter 2000

UK Legislators Call for Tighter Regulation of Complementary Therapists
The House of Lords (the UK�s Upper Chamber) Select Committee on Science and Technology called for more stringent regulation of complementary therapists in a recent report. The report Complementary and Alternative Medicine, was published on November 21, 2000 and is available in its entirety on line at

It expresses concern at whether the current regulatory framework in the United Kingdom is strong enough, particularly given the "considerable diversity of standards". The report suggests that statutory (as opposed to voluntary) regulation for acupuncture and herbal medicine, adding that in future homeopathy might be another candidate.

It also notes the absence of clear guidelines for training statutory regulated health professionals (such as doctors and nurses) who wish to introduce a form of alternative therapy into their personal clinical repertoire. It therefore calls for the existing regulatory bodies in each of the healthcare professions to develop clear guidelines on competence and training in alternative medicine. However, the committee urges caution in any moves to regulate training in alternative medicine for fear of misleading public perception of improved status. It also urges that accredited training of practitioners be carried out. The committee recommends one professional regulatory body is established and made responsible for supervising all training in that discipline.

The report also suggest that conventional health care practitioners should become familiar with alternative therapies, and states the provision of alternative medicine familiarization in schools of medicine and nursing is currently too uneven. It makes recommendations to the regulatory bodies concerned to rectify this position.

The report follows previous calls for the tightening of regulation in this area by the British Medical Association (BMA). In giving evidence to the Select Committee, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA�s head of health policy stressed the importance of public protection saying, "We think it's very important there is proper training and that when a person goes to see a complementary therapist they know what sort of training they have had, and know they are bound by professional rules - because that gives them reassurance."

The report comes at a time when an estimated 30% of Britons use herbal remedies and there are more than 3,000 clinics prescribing Chinese therapies in the UK.

Links Information about the House of Lords
The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
Research Council on Complementary Medicine

In Brief

The Professional Nursing Association of Spain has created an accreditation body (the High Institute of Accreditation for the Development of Nursing and Other Sciences (ISECS). The Institute ISECS is organized in three areas: Standard-setting, Accreditation and Research, and says it "aims to contribute to the improvement of the population's health by facilitating the advancement of the Spanish nursing professional by means of fostering the search for quality in the areas of practice, education, research and management of nursing services."

This development occurs against a background of increasing importance being placed on accreditation on a European-wide basis. After long-standing encouragement to develop accreditation programs from the World Health Organization, European Regional Office, the continent is increasingly applying ISO 9000 international quality regulations to the accreditation and certification of institutions and educational programs, health services and professional certification.

The Institute lists the following goals:


To establish an accreditation program for institutions and elementary and post-basic nursing educational programs.


To establish a necessary accreditation program for Health Centers and Nursing Services and other Health Sciences.


To establish and develop national and international agreements for the attainment of the above mentioned goals.


To develop a certification program to accredit professional practice.

Mark Your Calendars for the Fifth International Conference on the Regulation of Nursing and Midwifery:
Competencies as a Concept and Tool for Regulation

This will be held in Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen, Denmark by the Danish Board of Health on June 8 and 9, 2001.

For more information contact Randi Gjerding, The National Board of Health (, P.O. Box 2020, DK-1012 Copenhagen, K., Denmark
Tel: Fax: +45 3391 1601 Ext. 2322 Att: Randi Gjerding +45 3393 1636 Email:

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