The Timaru Herald
Acupuncture regulations for industry’s greater good
Timaru acupuncturist Graham Good is rapt his industry will finally become regulated.
The Ministry of Health announced last week that Chinese Medicine is to be included under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003). The act offers a framework for consistent procedures and terminology across the professions that are regulated by the act.
It protects the health and safety of the public by ensuring the competence of practitioners, according to the Ministry of Health.
Good, who is qualified, said it was ‘‘wonderful’’ the industry would be included under the act as lack of regulation meant anyone could practice whether they were trained or not.
‘‘We will be more recognised and be part of Allied Health and complement other modalities.
‘‘We can work alongside the other regulated industries and get rid of the cowboys.’’
Allied Health is the workforce made up of health professionals who are not part of the medical, dental or nursing professions.
He said it had taken more than 40 years of lobbying by the sector to get to this point.
Part of Chinese traditional medicine, acupuncture uses needles which are inserted into sites on the body called meridians.
These areas are associated with corresponding organs’ pathways to bring the body into balance and harmony, according to Acupuncture NZ.
Good studied for four years, has been practising since 2008 and is one of about 1200 registered acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioners in the country.
He said acupuncture was not just about needles, and the physical aspect as practitioners also helped with emotional and mental support.
Acupuncture of New Zealand president Robin Kerr said inclusion meant greater assurance of safety and competency for the public.
‘‘It will support patient centred practice
‘‘We can work alongside the other regulated industries and get rid of the cowboys.’’ Graham Good
through stronger collaboration with GPs and other health providers.’’
Acupuncture is widely accepted as being of value in the treatment of musculo-skeletal injuries, and has been covered by Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) since 1990.
In April, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom included acupuncture as a recommended treatment for chronic pain, Kerr said.
As well as herbal medicines available in different forms, techniques which will be included in the scope of practice of Chinese medicine practitioners are:
■ moxibustion which involves the burning of a specific herb to warm either the needles or a specific area of the body;
■ cupping which involves the application of either warmed glass cups or plastic suction cups;
■ gua sha which is a technique that involves the gentle scraping of the skin;
■ tui-na or massage;
■ as well as the provision of dietary and lifestyle advice including the prescription of specific foods or exercises, an Acupuncture NZ spokesperson said.
The Chinese Medicine Council of New Zealand will be the responsible authority for the new inclusion in New Zealand once it is formalised.