The CMC Regulation and Legislation Forum, the CMIR Spring Forum and Graduation Ceremony – Summary Report

The event was held at the University College London, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, on 20th April 2013 against the background of the ongoing legislative situation to discuss the future regulation process of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, herbal and complementary medicines. Professional organisations from various disciplines were represented.

The forum was introduced by Professor Man Fong Mei, the Chairman of the Chinese Medical Council (CMC), with an overview of the global developments and regulatory regimes relating to integrative medicine in different countries. The forum discussion followed.

David Tredinnick MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare, presented an insightful overview of the legislation and regulation of complementary medicine in the UK during the past 15 years. He pointed out the present influence of the EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (2004/24/EC) while also highlighting the recent revolutionary changes in legislation, namely the NHS reforms such as the Health and Social Care Act which promises to provide GPs and patients with more freedom to choose treatments that complement mainstream medicine. With statistical evidence available that more patients than ever before are using acupuncture, the future points to a greater demand for complementary medicine and medical integration. Mr. Tredinnick emphasised the need for regulation and suggested that solution will emerge within the next 2-3 months. The reason for delays since the last announcement by the Department of Health was due to issues of harmonisation with the EU laws.

Harry Cayton, Chief Executive, and Rick Borges, Accreditation Manager, from the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) introduced the newly implemented Accredited Voluntary Registers (AVR) Scheme as a proposed alternative to statutory regulation. The function and direction of the organisation were outlined along with the benefits of voluntary regulation. The PSA is planning to collaborate with the NHS and private healthcare providers and insurers to meet the public’s demand for safe acupuncture. The PSA has been in existence since 2002 as the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.

Jasmine Uddin – a member of the Independent British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB), introduced the group’s work while also providing a balanced critique of the voluntary regulation model. She suggested that in the long term the PSA can raise the standards of voluntary registers seeking accreditation but, the organisation could not provide protection of title for Chinese Medicine practitioners.

Amanda Shayle has put forward a case for the formation of a nation-wide federation for acupuncture organisations by explaining the case for a British Acupuncture Federation (BAF). She explored the issues facing acupuncturists from the recent NHS reforms and how a federal model along with voluntary regulation can help.

Robert White, the Secretary of the Chinese Medical Council (CMC), introduced the efforts of the CMC in collaboration with other organisations and its noteworthy accomplishments such as a creation of the code of professional practice and conduct for practitioners of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. He emphasised the importance of statutory regulation while acknowledging the benefits of voluntary regulation. He reiterated the CMC’s resolve to find a suitable regulatory regime for Chinese Medicine during the past 10 years – culminating in the present forum.

The Chinese practitioners’ insistence on the protection of the title of Chinese Medical practitioner within statutory regulation was expressed by Professor Ma Bo Ying

Professor Man Fong Mei summarised the proceedings by stating that the ‘qualified prescriber’ is the stumbling block to the progress in the regulation of Chinese Medicine within the context of the implementation of the THMPD in the UK by the MHRA in conjunction with the Department of Health proposal for herbal medicine statutory regulation. While voluntary regulation may be a suitable regulatory model for acupuncture, it is difficult for Chinese Medicine practitioners who practice both herbal medicine and acupuncture to pursue the voluntary route. This is a split in the regulatory regime for practitioners of a single integral medical system, involving both Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. While a deeper understanding was gained through the discussion on the various merits of statutory regulation and voluntary regulation models, it is difficult to reconcile the needs of different professions. A consensus amongst the different professions is therefore necessary to achieve the overall aim of patient safety and excellence in practice.

The panellists followed their presentations with answers to vital questions from a diverse audience of 70 guests which included practitioners and students of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture as well as patients.

The CMIR clinical proceedings followed with a presentation from Professor Man Fong Mei on Integrating Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture within Mainstream Medicine: Research and Clinical Updates. His paper highlighted the latest clinical developments and discoveries in Chinese Medicine including the application of the Yin and Yang syndrome differentiation within internal medicine and acupuncture. He also referred to the latest advances in quantum physics and their relevance to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.

Two presentations were made by King’s College and St. George’s medical students on the interesting topic of curing peanut allergy with Chinese herbs and the various benefits of Chinese Medicine for pregnant women. Outstanding research findings were presented on the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine in treating depression, anxiety and medically unexplained syndromes by Ashley Bennett as part of his PhD thesis at the University of Bedfordshire. The research was conducted over a period of one year with patients at the AcuMedic Clinic. Finally, Professor Mei and Dr. Zulia Frost presented the future of integration in the clinical application of Energy Medicine. The presentations were received with great enthusiasm.

With the current legislative situation clarified and the latest clinical progress reported, the stage was perfectly set for the new generation of integrative physicians to graduate at the 10th CMIR Graduation Ceremony which concluded a successful and timely event in the history of Chinese Medicine in the UK.