Abuse Rules To For Healers And Therapists

Britain’s army of alternative therapists is to be regulated by the Government under a crackdown on medical professionals who physically and sexually abuse their patients.

A white paper on tackling rogue doctors, which is also expected to target alternative health practitioners, will be unveiled by health ministers next month.

Up to 100,000 “talking therapists” are thought to operate in Britain but there is no compulsory regulation to monitor their work with vulnerable people.

By contrast, doctors can be struck off for incompetent or unethical behaviour and the General Medical Council’s code of conduct bans sex with current and former patients.

The conduct of medical practitioners has been highlighted by the Harold Shipman Inquiry and a series of serious sexual abuse cases.

Ministers are now planning an overhaul of the regulation procedures, which will call for a shift from criminal to civil standards of proof in disciplinary proceedings against doctors, making it easier to strike off those who are involved indecently with patients.

Regulations for therapists, healers and other alternative practitioners are expected to follow the same principle.

A Whitehall source said: “There has been a discussion for some time among the alternative and complementary communities about how they should be regulated.

“[In the white paper] the way forward will be set out. The principles of the regulation [for alternative therapists] will be the same but the actual structures will vary.”

The proposals will need primary legislation if they are to come into force.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The main aim of the document is to regulate doctors, not complementary and alternative therapists.

“But it will set out a framework for identifying professionals who are currently unregulated who will be regulated in future.”