Written Answers. - Alternative Medicine

Question:

72 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the action, if any, he has taken to establish a national register for acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine; his views on the number of unlicensed and unqualified practitioners of non-conventional medicine; the plans, if any, he has to establish a code of ethics and standards for these practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27286/98]

The position in relation to complementary and alternative medicine in Ireland, including acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, is that it is not regulated and at present I have no proposals to regulate it. I am aware of proposals before the European Commission at present to consider carrying out a research study in the area. It is anticipated that any such project will result in registration of some type in the member states.

With regard to the control of standards and codes of practice in the area, my Department's policy has been to encourage the various branches of alternative-complementary medicine to establish their own regulatory structure and to develop mechanisms to inform the general public about the availability of services from reputable therapists. Practitioners in this area are free to provide services to the public as long as they do not represent themselves as being registered medical practitioners.