UK herbal practice is in peril… Please help to save it!
In February 2011, the Secretary of State for Health announced that UK herbalists were to be statutorily regulated. He pledged that, subject to the usual procedures, the Department of Health (DH) would have this ready by 2012. Two years later the DH has failed to publish the draft legislation and there is no sign of progress. This delay is deeply damaging to the development and delivery of safe herbal medicine practice across the UK.
Failure to implement statutory regulation for herbal medicine practitioners is disastrous:
• Practitioners have lost the right to prescribe many commonly used herbal medicines
• The public has lost access to a wide range of herbal medicines available from practitioners for more than 40 years.
• Loss of the right to supply many herbal medicines is driving many herbal practitioners and their herbal suppliers out of business.
The Government is failing to heed the implications of the recent horsemeat scandal when lax quality control led to massive loss of
public confidence in the sale of meat products.
• Only statutory regulation can ensure that the public has access to trained professionals and is protected from bogus practitioners and substandard herbal remedies. Without SR the public is at risk!
• Well regulated professional guidance on the use of herbal medicines will make an important contribution to public health as the NHS budget is subject to increasing pressure. Herbal medicine offers a cost effective alternative for many common conditions.
• In short, statutory regulation is clearly in the public interest!
Please write to your MP to ask for the Government to introduce statutory regulation for herbalists without delay and say that “the only arrangement that meets my needs is for the Coalition Government to honour
its promise and complete the statutory regulation of herbalists.”
When writing to your MP, please also add a personal reason for supporting statutory regulation (e.g. “I use herbal medicine” or “I find herbal medicine effective to treat many ailments”). In this way you will personalise your reply ensuring it has maximum impact. If you care about herbal medicine, please do not miss the opportunity to support this ancient and priceless healing system. Today herbal medicine remains very popular. A survey commissioned by the government medicines regulator showed more than a quarter of the population had bought herbal medicines over-the-counter in the previous two years and that one in twenty had consulted a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine whilst around one in twelve had consulted a practitioner of Western herbal medicine. The Government appears to be dragging its feet because of a perceived need to fit in with EU legislation and not grant ‘authorised healthcare professional’ status to herbal practitioners in order to maintain the medical status quo. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes people incensed about Brussels’ bureaucracy. The decision to introduce statutory regulation for the herbal profession was taken after two public consultations that demonstrated massive public support for this measure. In addition, statutory regulation was endorsed by two DH Committees under independent chairmanship. In 2011, the Secretary of State declared that the decision to implement the statutory regulation of herbal practitioners marked ‘a significant milestone’. Please don’t delay – write in support of statutory regulation and make the Government honour its promise. Thank you very much for doing this.
About Herbal medicine
Did you know that herbal medicine is one of the most ancient forms of medicine, used the world over? Today scientific research is backing the traditional use of remedies that have been used for thousands of years. For example, research now indicates that St John’s wort is effective for mild and moderate depression, ginger is good for nausea and valerian and hops can help you sleep.
Although, of course, natural doesn’t guarantee safe, most herbal remedies have a gentle action on the body/mind and in the hands of a skilled herbal practitioner herbs can do much to restore a weakened or overburdened system. In 2008 the World Health Organisation (WHO) agreed that WHO and its Member States should cooperate to promote the use of traditional medicine for healthcare.
The collaboration aims to:
• Support and integrate traditional medicine into national health systems in combination with national policy and regulation for
products, practices and providers to ensure safety and quality;
• Ensure the use of safe, effective and quality products and practices, based on available evidence;
• Acknowledge traditional medicine as part of primary health care, to increase access to care and preserve knowledge and resources;
and ensure patient safety by upgrading the skills and knowledge of traditional medicine providers.
• Gaining statutory regulation will ensure these aims are met in the UK!