Acupuncture dates back several centuries and originated in China. Today, acupuncture is available across the UK in a range of settings, including some GP practices, but mostly in private clinics.
Some medical doctors use acupuncture to treat patients and these doctors are regulated by law. However, it is possible to train and practise as an acupuncturist (or microsystems acupuncturist*) in the UK without being a medical professional. These practitioners are not regulated by law.
What does this mean? Well, unlike doctors, nurses, dentists and many other healthcare practitioners, their training, practise and behaviour are not overseen by a professional body unless they choose to register with one.
Acupuncturists do have to register their clinics with the local authority which helps to maintain standards of cleanliness and quality.
What else might you want to check before being treated by an acupuncturist? Have they been trained appropriately? What happens if something goes wrong – who do you complain to? And are they insured?
The Accredited Registers programme was set up thanks to new legislation in 2012 to help you choose from a list of practitioners (who are not regulated by law) but who have been checked according to a range of quality standards. Everyone on an Accredited Register must:
- Sign up to a code of ethics/conduct
- Be insured to practise
- Have appropriate training and qualifications for the treatments they offer
- Demonstrate that they are continually learning and updating their skills and knowledge (also known as CPD)
*Microsystems acupuncture is a modern form of acupuncture which focuses on small, well-defined areas of the body such as the hand, foot, face, scalp and ear.