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On 16 February 2011 the Government published a Command Paper called 'Enabling excellence' which announced the Government’s intention that herbal practitioners should become regulated by the HCPC.
The Command Paper talks about regulation for ‘practitioners of herbal medicine’, which includes medical herbalists, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners and other practitioners who use unlicensed herbs in their practice. Statutory regulated practitioners such as doctors who use these products in their practice will not need to be separately registered.
In April 2011 European legislation, Directive 2004/24/EC on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products, came into force which requires manufactured herbal medicines to be licensed in a similar way as conventional medicines. This has meant that (once their existing stocks have been exhausted) practitioners have been unable to dispense unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines to their patients. Under the legislation the only exemption from this is if a practitioner is an 'authorised health professional'. The Government said in the Command Paper that it intended to regulate herbal practitioners to ensure continued access to these products and continued consumer choice.
Since then, the Secretary of State asked the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to set up an independent working group which would 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 Chair said that he considered 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. The Government recently responded to the report in a statement to the UK parliament, largely endorsing its findings.