Complementary Medicine

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 23 February 2010.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth 2:30, 23 February 2010

What recent representations he has received on the regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

We received more than 6,000 responses to the consultation on the regulation of acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Ministers will receive a report on the analysis next month.

Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth

I am grateful to the hon. Lady; I understand that she has put in quite a lot of work on this. Given the rejection of the Booth case, which related to mis-prescribing, at the Old Bailey last week, is it not important to bring in this time frame? Secondly, is it not a fact that, in this time of economic difficulty, many Chinese practitioners are desperately seeking statutory regulation to give them a stamp of authority?

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

I understand very well the points that the hon. Gentleman makes. Indeed, the case to which he referred is deeply tragic. I accept that products can be damaging, which is why we are keen to take action. The importance of the consultation is obvious to me. It asks whether we should regulate and, if so, how. I am sure that he will join me in paying tribute to Professor Mike Pitillo-who, sadly, died recently-for the major contribution that he has made to this important area of work.

Photo of Alan Simpson Alan Simpson Labour, Nottingham South

I congratulate the officials in the Department on their work on this matter, but does not the Susan Wu case add a sense of urgency to the need for us to grasp the nettle in regard to regulation in a sector in which the practitioners themselves are pushing for a regulatory framework to set standards within which they can operate securely?

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

I understand the sense of urgency that my hon. Friend conveys, but regulation needs to be balanced and proportionate, which is why the consultation is so important. We have to look at public safety, choice and access, but we also need to consider whether regulation is justified, and, if so, what type. We will make a decision as quickly as possible, as soon as the analysis has been received.