On 16 February 2011 the Government published a Command Paper on regulation called 'Enabling excellence' which announced their proposals for the regulation of healthcare workers across the UK and social workers in England.
The paper sets out the Government’s intentions for the regulation of herbal medicine practitioners and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, and other practitioners who use unlicensed herbs within their practice.
This follows the implementation of the European legislation Directive 2004/24/EC on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products that came into force on April 2011. The Directive requires manufactured herbal medicines to be licensed in the same way as conventional medicines. Under the legislation the only exemption from this is if a practitioner is regulated.
The Paper acknowledges the HCPC is an established and experienced regulator and recommends we create a statutory register for practitioners supplying unlicensed herbal medicines. It does not go into detail about how these groups will be regulated but does say that the focus of regulation will be ‘solely on minimising risk to the public’. The register will be a register of people who are able to dispense unlicensed herbal medicines. The exact form and scope of that regulation is currently unclear until the four UK Government health Departments publish a consultation on the necessary legislation.
The Secretary of State asked the Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to set up and independent working group to look further at options for the regulation of herbal practitioners and herbal products. The Chair of the working group published his report and advice to Ministers in March 2015. The report said that there was 'not yet a credible scientific evidence base to demonstrate risk from both products and practitioners' which would justify statutory regulation of this group. We understand that the Government will publish its response to the report in due course.