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Br J Gen Pract. 2009 August 1; 59(565): 614.
PMCID: PMC2714789

Ethics of complementary medicine

George Lewith, Professor of Health Research

Professor Ernst's discussion piece on the ethics of complementary and alternative medicine1 leaves much to be desired as Brian Buckley suggests.2 While statutory regulation is certainly no panacea, it does enable the professions to consider how they can provide their services in a proper and ethical manner. However, recent experience with the GMC appraisal and revalidation makes it clear that this process is far from perfect, but at least it is a step in the right direction. Professor Ernst fails to mention that the osteopaths and chiropractors have been statutory regulated for some years with their regulating body governing their education, professional behaviour, ethics, and continuing professional development. The acupuncturists and herbal medical practitioners in the UK have been debating their regulatory process with the Department of Health since 2000 and are also to be imminently regulated. Many of the other CAM professions have achieved some limited form of self-regulation and registration, with some expressing the intention of progressing to a more formal process which again will govern education, ethics, and continuing professional development. These attempts to improve the ethics, standards, and quality of complementary medical practice in the UK have now been ongoing for two decades and have been largely triggered by the professions themselves with recent help from the Department of Health. While this process is very far from being perfect, it presents a somewhat different perspective to that implied by Professor Ernst's paper.

REFERENCES

1. Ernst E. Ethics of complementary medicine: practical issues. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(564):517–519. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Buckley BS. Conventional medicine is less than perfect. Br J Gen Pract. 2009;59(564):519. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners