Ask an expert - about acupuncture - finding an acupuncturist

10 questions

We have checked the BAcC database and they show that one of our members is working from the address. Whether they are the only acupuncturist there is something we cannot tell: membership of a professional association or membership of the BAcC is not a statutory requirement, and there are practitioners who choose to operate independently. We think, however, that this is one of our members, and she appears to be working alongside a statutorily regulated chiropractor

If it is  you can rest assured that you are being treated by someone who is properly trained and qualified. To enter the BAcC someone must have completed three years of degree level training at an accredited college, and over the last twenty years the training for UK acupuncture practitioners has developed tremendously. As a member of the BAcC she is fully insured under our group policy, and also required to abide by some extremely high professional standards, especially in matters of safe practice and conduct.It is not unusual for many of our members to work solely with Yellow Page entries, referrals from the BAcC website and word of mouth referrals. Many choose not to have websites, sometimes because the restrictions on what we can say are quite strictly policed by the Advertising Standards Authority, but mainly because they would rather explain what they do and how they work directly. Some female practitioner also feel a little exposed when advertising their services, and we are sorry to say that we have had cases of stalking and inappropriate attention.We are confident that you can contact her with complete confidence. We are not sure what she charges, but think that this is something you would be better advised to discuss with her directly. We are sure that she will also be willing and able to discuss her marketing strategy, but more to the point we are sure that she will be able to offer you the help that you need if acupuncture treatment is the most appropriate way to address your concerns. 
We have searched our own database and the databases of several other associations in the UK and we have found no trace of a Lian Chen, nor anyone with a name which is similar. Had the person belonged to a professional body you could rest assured that they had proper professional indemnity cover. In the BAcC, for example, professional indemnity insurance is automatically provided within the annual membership subscription, so when we say that all of our members are fully insured we know this for certain. Some other organisations check the insurance every year, although it is up to the individual practitioner to obtain the deal that they prefer.

The only other way to check whether a practitioner is insured is to contact the local authority under whom the practitioner has to be licensed or registered. There is a piece of legislation called Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982 under which all acupuncture practitioners have to register. Many local authorities check whether an incoming practitioner has proper insurance in place. We suspect that South Gloucestershire Council is the relevant authority for BS34, and a call to its Licensing Department or Environmental Health Department will put you in touch with someone who can tell you whether the person is properly registered. The only people who are exempt from registration are doctors and dentists. We have checked the GMC register and there is no Lian Chen currently registered. This almost certainly means that the title Dr refers to Chinese Medicine and is not a sign of a conventional medicine qualification. If this person is not a doctor then they will have to be registered. We have take the liberty of looking at the address you gave us on google streetview, and we have to say that it doesn't look like an acupuncture practice. However, since there is no trace of the practitioner on the internet it may well be someone who is working from home. We hope that this helps you to get hold of the information you need.

 


Unfortunately by its very nature traditional acupuncture, if undertaken according to classical principles, is a generalist practice. Indeed, in ancient times the specialists were somewhat disparaged for being limited in  their scope of practice, and the generalists were regarded as the supreme physicians. This very much fits with the idea that each individual is unique and different, and the true skill of the practitioner lies in looking at why these specific symptoms arose in this particular patient. This explains why twenty people with the same named condition might be treated in twenty different ways.



That said, we understand from the rather unusual nature of the problem you have that you might prefer to see someone who had seen this kind of problem before. This might prove tricky because the only two areas where we have advanced towards recognising degrees of specialism are obstetrics and paediatrics. There aren't really that many practitioners who are working in environments where the bulk of their patient work would be in the neuro/psychological sector. 



The one thing you do have going for you in York is a long-established college, the Northern College of Acupuncture. While the clinical work there will mainly be undertaken by students the faculty contains some of the most experienced acupuncture practitioners in the country, especially its principals. You could do a great deal worse than seeking a view from them about whether there is someone amongst them who has seen or worked with something similar. We tend to find that groups of practitioners very often know better than we could hope to track who specialises in areas of work or has spoken of such treatments.



We would be bound to say, however, that if you have seen someone in the past whose services have been very good, you would probably find that these would still be the best choice, especially if you have already had experience of their work and found them good.



 

A:  With some difficulty, we suspect. There was a considerable interest in the use of magnets on acupuncture points after a couple of presentations at our annual conferences well over a decade ago, but there has been a rather long period of silence thereafter. We think that there may well be one or two members who have become 'converts', but since the use of magnets is not within our usual scope of practice there hasn't been the development of a special interest group of which we are aware, as there is in the treatment of certain specific patient groups.

There is no doubt that there may be some substance in claims for efficacy, as this paper from around the same period demonstrates

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18818562

We think the best way to track down whether there is someone who uses magnets may well be to ask some of the acupuncture product suppliers whether they maintain any records of training which they have offered in the use of magnets. We think it may be in breach of the Data Protection Act to supply you with details of their customers, but if you look at suppliers like Acumedic, Jong Baik, Scarboroughs, Oxford Medical, Balance Healthcare, Harmony and the like, there are often training courses which they point people towards for the use of products, and there may be conduit through the course organisers to BAcC members and other practitioners who have completed training in their use. This will be more to do with the technical and safety side than to do with acupuncture theory, but this is crucial for maximum safe therapeutic effect.

We just undertook a rapid search of google under the heading 'BAcC member magnets' and generated a number of useful leads across the UK, so this may in the end be the quickest way to find out by adding your home town to the search. 

A: The answer to your question is that from our perspective all BAcC members are good acupuncturists to have met the degree level entry requirement we have in place. The choice, therefore, is which is geographically closest, and you will find that if you enter St Albans in the search facility on our home page www.acupuncture.org.uk you will generate a list of the ten nearest practitioners. In fact, if you use the postcode search this becomes even more precise.

We are confident that all of our members in your area will be able to provide you with professional and effective treatment. However, we recognise that while a good rapport with a practitioner is not absolutely essential, most prospective patients like to see who they may be dealing with and where they work. You will find that nearly all of our members are happy to arrange for a brief visit and chat about whatever you might want to seek help for, and this will give you a chance to assess whether you can do business with them. You may even find that they recommend other forms of treatment alongside or instead of acupuncture, since their primary concern will be your well-being and the most effective way to restore balance.

Of course, equally effective is to ask a person who has already made the journey. If you know of anyone who has had acupuncture in your area they may well be a very useful and impartial source of good advice.

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