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Do acupuncturists have to be registered and licensed to practice?

A:  There is no statutory regulation of acupuncture in the UK, which means that in theory anyone  is free to practise. In practice, however, all acupuncture practitioners are required to register with their local authorities as skin piercers, and the registration process means that their premises and hygiene standards are subject to inspection, and increasingly more often their training standards.

 The legislation in the England, Wales and Northern Ireland which governs this is the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982 which requires every practitioner to be registered for every practice in which they work. In Greater London the situation is slightly different. Unless someone belongs to a statutorily regulated profession, like a doctor, dentist or HCPC registered physio or similar, they must hold an annual licence which is much the same as being registered but whereas registration is a one-off process, the licences are renewable annually. The only exception is where a practitioner belongs to an exempt body which meets certain criteria to guarantee standards. The BAcC is such an exempt body.


In Scotland the position is similar to that which obtains in London, except there are no exempt associations, and all BAcC members there have to be licensed.


The BAcC still believes that the public would be best served by the statutory regulation of acupuncture to guarantee that anyone using the title was properly trained, safe, competent and accountable. This would cost money, however, and is unlikely in the short tern because acupuncture is a safe profession, as well as one in which there are relatively few boundary violations.


The BAcC, however, has achieved accreditation in the Professional Standards Authorities accredited voluntary register scheme, and this is widely seen as a form of regulation nearly as valuable as statutory regulation in terms of protecting the public interest. 




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