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Are there codes of practice/ethics/legislation for acupuncture?

There is no regulation of acupuncture by law in the UK, what is termed statutory regulation, and in theory anyone could undertake a short course in acupuncture and start up in business. In practice there is health and safety regulation in law about all forms of skin piercing which means that all practitioners have to either registered or licensed. Different rules apply in Scotland and Greater London from the rest of the UK, with practitioners having to hold an annual licence unless they belong to a professional body which has exempt status, like the BAcC, or are already regulated for their primary activity like physiotherapy or osteopathy. In the rest of the UK everyone except doctors and dentists has to be registered for every practice in which they work, but only pays a one-off registration fee.

In practice, environmental health officers who administer these laws now check whether the applicant is properly trained and insured, and we are aware of people with inadequate training being refused registration.

We do not anticipate that acupuncture will be regulated by statute in the short term. Our work is very safe and there are no reasons to spend money protecting the public interest when self-regulation, as praised by the Minister three years ago, seems to do the job. There is also a national scheme for voluntary registers run by the Professional Standards Authority which applies a very rigorous testing process for professional associations and has considerable national status as a government-backed initiative. The BAcC was one of the first two organisations in the UK to achieve accreditation.

Since there is no national regulation there are no nationally agreed standards. However, the BAcC is widely regarded as the leading body for acupuncture in the UK and its Codes, which you can find here

are often used as the benchmark for other associations, especially the Code of Safe Practice. These are all in the process of being updated to accommodate changes over the last five years in related law relating to data protection, etc etc.

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