The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council today (Monday, January 19th) opens its new register which means for the first time in the UK, members of the public who use a range of complementary healthcare services will be able to check that their practitioner is registered with an independent, and robust voluntary registration body.

With more than 150,000 complementary healthcare practitioners in the UK and an estimated 1 in 5 people using complementary disciplines, the CNHC has been formed to enhance public protection by setting standards for registration.

The CNHC kitemark will be established as the hallmark of quality for the sector. Over time, the general public and those who commission the services of complementary healthcare practitioners will be able to choose practitioners with confidence, by looking for the symbol.

Based on substantial preliminary activity undertaken by the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health and with the help of a range of complementary healthcare practitioners, the CNHC was founded in April 2008. The Department of Health has consistently supported the CNHC throughout its start-up period and is committed to establishing the CNHC as the national voluntary register in the complementary healthcare field.

Ben Bradshaw, Minister of State for Health, said: “I welcome the opening of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) register. Now that the Council is open for business, there will be a single voluntary registration body encompassing a wide range of complementary and alternative therapies, to which the public can turn for help.

“Members of the public who use these therapies will be able to check whether the practitioner they’re seeing is registered with the CNHC. If they are, they have the reassurance of knowing that they have had to meet minimum standards of qualification and that they have signed up to a rigorous code of conduct. Practitioners too will benefit by increased public confidence.

“Public safety is paramount. Registration, whether voluntary or statutory, is about protecting patients, and I am pleased to see this important milestone in voluntary registration. People should always seek their GP’s advice to ensure that any other therapy they use does not conflict with orthodox treatment,” he concluded.

In order for practitioners to successfully register with the CNHC and receive the kitemark, they must have undertaken a programme of education and training which meets, as a minimum, the National Occupational Standards for that profession/discipline or achieved competency to the same level by means of relevant experience and assessment.

The first professions to have the standards in place for registration with the CNHC are massage therapy and nutritional therapy. Throughout 2009, the Register will be opened to further disciplines, as they become ready and wish to register, and include:

Alexander technique; Aromatherapy; Bowen technique; Cranial therapy; Homeopathy; Naturopathy; Reflexology; Reiki; Shiatsu; and Yoga therapy.

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