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Q:  I've read the BAC fact sheet about Moxibustion.
I have a couple of questions regarding Moxibustion to treat a slight muscular ache in R/H shoulder of a male px, 70kgs, 54yrs old.
What is this specic training a practionerer must have undertaken to be considered compent under BAC guidelines and how does a patient verify qulifications?
How many points would be a recomended treatment for Direct Non Scaring Moxibustion?
Could there be any side effects or damage to muscle or nerves (ie: neck or spine) surronding shoulder if too many points are treated in 1 session?
If patient complains of strong pain deep in shoulder joint half way through treatment should the practioneer stop?
A:  All members of the BAcC will have undertaken training in the use of moxa as a part of their undergraduate training. The most accessible assembly of documents can be found on the website of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board

notably the SETA and SPAS documents which outline the basis of what an accredited college must provide students who graduate with automatic eligibility to join the BAcC subject to health and criminal record checks. These spell out what student must learn, although the precise method if training will vary from institution to institution. All students usually practise on each other when training, and tend to be the harshest of judges. No-one whose competence was in question would be allowed to proceed to graduation. A patient can verify qualifications by contacting the BAcC who can say where and when a practitioner trained. If necessary, the patient could then contact the teaching institution directly.

There is no recommended number of points. The usual deciding factor is the patient's tolerance of the treatment and the amount of heat being generated. Most practitioners would err on the side of caution to avoid burning a patient. There are no accounts or records of which we are aware on secondary damage to muscles and tendons as a consequence of moxibustion. The only adverse effects of which we are aware are burns. By its very nature moxibustion will always cause a small number of burns each year, and the practitioner's main challenge is to reduce the risk as much as possible. We do not believe it would be possible to completely eradicate all risk. We have never seen case reports suggesting that moxibustion has caused the problems you mention, and as you can imagine we do monitor all reports of adverse events across the world very carefully. 

If someone complains of a pain arising during a session it would be a matter of professional judgement whether the treatment was stopped then and there. By their nature some treatments can cause pain to increase slightly, and there are occasions when the effect of treatment on the body's energies can cause a dull aching sensation, called 'deqi', to arise. This is very much sought after in Chinese styles of treatment, although Japanese styles tend to be more conservative. A practitioner might judge that this was evidence that treatment was working. Of course, it someone directly asks the practitioner to stop, then stop they must. To carry on in the face of requests not to continue might be construed as assault, and would certainly indicate a withdrawal of consent without which treatment cannot take place.

If you are dissatisfied with the standards of treatment which you have received, this page from our website

details how you may go about making this known and seeking a more formal account of what has happened to you.

We hope, however, that any side effects which have arisen through treatment are transient and have already started to resolve while this reply has been in transit.

Q:  I’m an Australian and British citizen completing a Bhsc degree of Acupuncture in Australia next month. What are the possibilities of working and registering as an acupuncturist in the UK?

A: There is very little  restriction on working as an acupuncturist in the UK. There is no statutory regulation, and the only laws which govern what we do are the skin piercing regulations under which we have to be registered and which are mainly concerned with hygiene and safety. In mist of the UK this is administered by local rather than central government under Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1982, and involves a one-off registration payment for every practice in which you work. In Greater London there is annual licensing under the London Local Authorities

Act 1991, but membership of some professional bodies (we are one such) makes members exempt from licensing. In Scotland the Skin Piercing regulations of 2006 mean that all practitioners who are not statutorily regulated healthcare practitioners have to be annually licensed.

Costs vary. One off registration can be between £200 and £400, and annual licensing rather similar. Some authorities have begun to examine qualifications to assess whether someone is fit and proper to practice but the majority don't. An Australian qualification would more than meet the criteria. As long as you have the appropriate visas and work permits that would be that. Professional insurance is essential, and the main broker for individual practitioners currently charges just over £100 per annum for a rather good policy on a 'claims occurring' basis.

Obviously joining a professional body makes life a great deal easier, and while we regard the BAcC as the creme de la creme there are other associations, most of whom would be satisfied by an Australian qualification. Unfortunately at this point we do not have reciprocal recognition of qualifications in the BAcC, so someone from outside the UK has to follow the external applicant rout outlined here

but eventually we hope to move forward with reciprocity to make transitions easier.

Q:  I am in my final year ( third year) student at Meiji University center for Acupuncture and Physiotherapy in Kyoto, Japan. What should I do exactly to gain membership at the British Acupuncture council?

A: This is somewhat tricky. If you meant coming to work in the UK , then it would simply be a matter of applying to us by following the process outlined on this page of our website

 As long as there were no issues about work permits and visas the process is straightforward and takes three to four months from start to finish.

However, if you meant becoming an Overseas member that would be more of a challenge to our systems. Many years ago we amended our constitution to restrict Overseas membership to only those people who had been Full members already or who had graduated from a recognised accredited college in the UK. We had become aware that some Overseas members were using the status inappropriately and implying that we had more jurisdiction over their work than was possible at distance, and could provide assurances about people's standards and insurance. We do not have the resources to do this, so we chose to restrict membership to those whose standards we are more confident about.

 However, there are always exceptions to every rule, and in some cases it might be possible to make an application. We don't think that it is very likely to be accepted, given the rules for Overseas Membership are so precise, but things change, and if you lodge an interest there may be a chance that in future a category of membership will arise and enable you to join.

Q. Are Accupuncturists on Cruise Ships qualified?
Thompson/Marella have refused to divulge the qualifications of a Dr who carried out treatment in the Spa on the ship saying 'nothing to do with them'.

A. This is quite complex at the best of times, without adding a cruise ship to the mix. At the moment there is no statutory regulation of acupuncture, so in theory anyone can set up in practice. In reality, though, unless someone is a doctor or in certain parts of the country a statutorily regulated healthcare practitioner like a physio or osteopath, then you have to register or be licensed by a local authority under national skin piercing laws which are adopted and enforced locally. Most licensing and environmental health departments tend to check whether someone is properly trained and insured, although in only a few cases has it been made a legal requirement.

However, cruise ships operating outside territorial waters are not subject to the same laws or regulations, and a cruise operator can employ anyone they choose and decide for themselves whether someone is suitably qualified. Some BAcC members have done stints on Stena Sealink ships, and they have been subject to some fairly rigorous checks.

If the cruise line won't give any details, you can always try checking the register of the various professional bodies, like the BAcC, the British Medical Acupuncture Society, the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, the Acupuncture Society, the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine to see if he is a member. Membership always entails meeting qualifying standards. Alternatively you can just google search on his or her name and see what comes up. If you don't understand what you read you can always get in touch and we can tell you whether a qualification is reputable or not. Most are, but some aren't, being of the 'how much can you afford' variety.

Q. I'm looking at acupuncture courses, I'm currently studying an ITC in massage and anatomy, physiology and pathology. I have been looking at travelling to China to study but am finding info about transferable qualifications tricky to find. Is their a recognised international qualification for acupuncturists?

A. Sadly, there isn't an internationally recognised standard for acupuncture training, and what you may find is that there is an almost infinite variety of training courses in China which can range from 3 month intensive training to seven years full degree and beyond. A problem we have often had in the BAcC is finding out from Chinese practitioners who apply to join the BAcC exactly what their training entailed, so difficult can it be to get hold of course transcripts which map onto the requirements for entry into the BAcC.

The situation is certainly better than it used to be because of the standardisation of training around the style rather confusingly called TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) This become a kind of universally acknowledged system because there will always be TCM associations in every country, and most will operate some form of reciprocal recognition with courses in universities with which they have close ties. This doesn't apply to the BAcC which has always been a broad church and has people who practise all sorts of Traditional East Asian systems as well as TCM, but the ATCM, another major association, does have links with particular Chinese courses.

Generally speaking, though, most professional associations have accreditation processes which offer automatic entry to graduates whose teaching institutions they recognise, and then operate an individual application route for people who trained elsewhere. The BAcC, for example, set up the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board over twenty five years ago, an independent body which accredits courses, and the standards which it applies for courses in terms of content are used to assess the training of individual applicants. You can read about how we do this here

and you will find the Board's site interesting, not least because it has useful information for prospective students and training standards but also because it lists accredited institutions, ones that have met its standards. It might be worth considering whether any of these might meet your needs. It's certainly cheaper than travelling to China, and has a level of quality assurance built into it. The worst outcome would be to find that after the expense and inconvenience your training wasn't adequate. This sounds improbable, but we have seen it happen, and it's heartbreaking to have to tell someone that after two or three years work they have to start again.

You may find, by the way, that some of your current A & P training may count towards the acupuncture training and reduce the

Of course, this is all predicated on the assumption that you want to join a professional body! There are almost no legal requirements for acupuncture treatment in the UK other than that the practitioner must be registered or licensed under local authority skin piercing laws. Some local authorities check whether their training is bona fide, but most don't, and if we find it difficult to assess the quality of someone's training it would be equally, if not more, hard for someone who hasn't any background in Chinese medicine. The only other requirement would be adequate insurance.

Anyway, we hope that this answers your question and gives you a little more background.

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