UK activists attack misleading “CAM” regulatory agency

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Posted 10 June 2013

The Nightingale Collaboration, a group of British activists, has submitted 100 complaints against practitioners and clinics registered with the UK’s Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The CNHC was set up in 2008 with government support to regulate Alexander therapy, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, craniosacral therapy, healing, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, microsystems acupuncture, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, reflexology, reiki; shiatsu, sports therapy, and yoga therapy. To display the CNHC “quality mark,” registrants must meet a long list of standards that include, “Advertisements must not be misleading, false, unfair or exaggerated.” The Collaboration’s home page summarizes the situation this way:

  • The breadth of these questionable claims is truly staggering, with just about no CNHC ‘discipline’ left untouched. The Alexander Technique is a notable exception in this batch of complaints—at least there is some good evidence for it for some conditions and we found no evidence of the outrageous claims that were being made for other disciplines.
  • The CNHC controls what training is considered appropriate for an aspirant registrant and they must also ensure that future registrants are clearly taught during their training just what they can and cannot treat—and that has to be based on the best scientific evidence available. Anything less is a dereliction of their duty. They promised this nearly four years ago, but even if they have taken action, our complaints clearly demonstrate that it was wholly inadequate.
  • If the CNHC ever wants to be considered a regulator that protects the public rather than its registrants, it should take this opportunity to tackle the endemic problems with their registrants head on, ensure that all misleading (and indeed illegal) claims are removed, and deal with the registrants appropriately.
  • The CNHC recently applied to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to join their statutory Accredited Voluntary Register. With these revelations of the widespread and reckless claims being made by CNHC registrants, we suggest the PSA drop their application and have nothing further to do with them until the CNHC are able to fully demonstrate their ability to control their registrants and protect the public.

From: Consumer Health Digest #13-22, June 6, 2013

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