Two main groups of health professionals employ acupuncture techniques in their clinical work. The main group are professional traditional acupuncturists who have normally completed a 3,600 hour, degree level training in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
The training includes the study of conventional clinical sciences as well as formal instruction in an authentic holistic tradition of a medical practice that has been established in China over the last 2,500 years. This is the style of acupuncture recognised by many governments which have legal licensing of its practice, such as those of China, Japan, Australia and the US. Traditional acupuncture is practiced by over 1 million acupuncturists worldwide. The other group consists of conventional medical practitioners such as doctors, physiotherapists and nurses who also use needling methods as an adjunct to their professional practice. This style of acupuncture, often called dry needling, has also become known as Western Medical Acupuncture.
Both styles of practice are governed by their own professional bodies. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is the leading self-regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture in the UK. It was formed in 1995 from five precursor bodies, the oldest of which was established in the early 60s. It now has over 3000 members. The first and foremost aim of the council is to protect and safeguard the public interest by maintaining high standards of education, ethics, discipline and safe practice amongst its members. BAcC-registered acupuncturists are trained in relevant aspects of Western medicine including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and pathology. This enables the properly trained and qualified professional acupuncturist to recognise when it is in the patient's best interest to be referred on for other specialist care.
Training standards in traditional acupuncture at most of the UK University and College courses are assessed and guaranteed by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board. Details of these courses and the accreditation process can be found at http://www.baab.co.uk/study-acupuncture/accredited-courses.html
Registered practitioners in conventional medicine, mostly doctors and physiotherapists, are overseen by the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) which was founded in 1980 to encourage the use of dry needling acupuncture techniques, and by the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) established as a special interest group within the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP). Doctors and physios are eligible to join these bodies on completion of accredited programmes, but these are postgraduate courses of much shorter duration than traditional acupuncture training. The acupuncture or dry needling taught in these courses is seen very much as a limited technique within the wider scope of practice of the professionals who use it.
What actually is it about traditional acupuncture which makes it entirely different from what conventional medical professionals do? 'Traditional' means that the practitioner is trained to use an approach to diagnosis and treatment that has evolved over the past few thousand years in China, Japan and other countries of East Asia. It is an authentic medical tradition which explains how each person's symptoms and signs can be interpreted to establish a diagnosis of the underlying imbalances in their overall patterns of health and well-being. Each and every piece of information is relevant to building up this picture, and that can include changes seen in the complexion, in body shape and movement, changes in the tongue and information gained from palpation of the pulse and the body as a whole. This is a very heuristic and patient-centered approach that leads to a formal diagnosis in the technical terms of traditional Chinese medicine.
Once the practitioner has diagnosed the nature and cause of the imbalance a treatment plan will be devised which will be unique and specific to the patient. The treatment is then carried out by inserting ultra fine sterile disposable needles into selected acupuncture points on the body. Traditionally-trained acupuncturists may also use a heat treatment (moxabustion), cupping therapy or other forms of physical stimulation.
Whilst there is still a great deal of scope for more studies to be done, over 10,000 clinical trials into acupuncture have already been published and a great deal is known about the way that it works.
The British Acupuncture Council has produced a series of Fact Sheets, published on its website, (http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/category/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions.html) on the effectiveness of acupuncture in addressing a number of conditions, and these all include an extensive discussion of the evidence available. Each year 2.3 million traditional acupuncture treatments are carried out in the UK, making it one of the most popular complementary therapies. The National Institute for Health Care Excellence, NICE, in 2009, based on the evidence available, recommended the use of acupuncture as a treatment option for lower back pain and in 2012 for migraines and tension type headaches.
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These are common questions the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) receives from potential members and members in relation to Medical Malpractice/Public Liability Liability Insurance.
As a professional you are always at risk of legal action being taken against you in respect of your legal liability for loss arising from breach of a professional duty. The professional indemnity insurance for acupuncturists policy protects you, providing you with cover in respect of both any claims that are made against you and the legal costs associated with any defence.
It is a block membership based policy, which is included in your membership. You will need to contact the BAcC who will check your qualifications and if you are eligible you would apply for registration with them as a member. If you become a member the insurance arrangements will be put into place from the date you join.
Membership includes insurance. The only exceptions are those who are Registered Medical Practitioners, those working solely within the NHS and those practising 'high risk' therapies such as osteopathy, chiropractic, manipulative therapy, colonic irrigation etc. which the bloc policy does not cover. Cover to include acupuncture and 'high risk' therapy can be provided separately by the insurers. If this is taken up the insurance part of membership is excluded from the fees.
If it is within 2 years of leaving you can have automatic re-entry. If it is after 2 years, you need to go through a re-admissions procedure via the Admissions Department of the BAcC.
£5,000,000 any one event, which is also claims occurring, i.e. if you were insured when the incident happened you remain covered even after your membership and 'active' insurance ceases. This differs from 'claims made' policies where you have to be insured at the time the claim is actually made.
Lockton is the world's largest privately owned global insurance broker with over 5,000 employees in the US, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. Lockton delivers insurance and risk management services to organisations of all sizes as well as individuals.
Healthcare is a highly complex area of risk with a vast diversity of services, dynamic regulatory environment, challenging financial circumstances and growing patient expectations.
The Lockton healthcare broking team is one the largest in the UK, with unparalleled expertise across the sector in managing risk and insurance.
RSA (Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc) is the principle insurer to the BAcC Indemnity scheme. With a 300-year heritage, RSA is one of the world's leading multinational insurance groups and is an established 'A' rated insurer. Today, it employs around 23,000 people, serving 17 million customers in over 140 countries.
The company's focus is to deliver strong and effective performance, even in the most challenging market conditions.
RSA will provide the key component of the insurance; the Professional Indemnity to protect against any claims of clinical negligence and public and products liability claims.
For more details please visit: http://www.rsagroup.com
BAcC member Rhiannon Griffiths on traditional acupuncture for migraine relief.
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