On Weds 16th February, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced the statutory regulation of herbal and traditional medicine practitioners under the Health Professions Council (HPC). This follows a decade long consultation process with the Department of Health, originating from a House of Lords’ Report in 2001. The decision has been made because of the prospect of restricted access to herbal medicines due to EU legislation which comes into force at the end of April.
In response to the final public consultation in 2009, I set up the Save Our Herbs website and, with fellow Herbalists and concerned members of the public, took the issue to the Scottish Parliament. The response from MSPs was encouragingly positive, attracting cross party support and resulting in a reception at Holyrood hosted by Mary Scanlon MSP. However, despite this obvious support, it has taken yet another year for a decision to be made.
When I graduated with first class honours in 2009 and joined the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) I felt so positive about the future and excited to be embarking on a new career. However, the uncertainty about the impact of the EU directive cast a shadow over decisions on how to take my practice forward. With this announcement I can face the future positively again, secure in the knowledge that I will be able to provide my patients with the full range of medicines I have trained to use. The people of Strathearn can also be confident that their Herbalist is fully qualified and about to be regulated by the Health Professions Council.
Desiree Shelley, President of NIMH said
“The Government is to be congratulated on making the right decision to bring in statutory regulation for all those prescribing herbal medicines. Ministers have clearly recognised that this legislation is for patients’ benefit. The National Institute of Medical Herbalists looks forward to working with the Department of Health and Health Professions Council to implement this as soon as possible.”
How this all pans out remains to be seen but what is clear at the moment is that your local Herbalist will be able to supply you with a wide range of herbal medicines that otherwise would have been lost due to this EU directive. Watch this space for updates…
 Hansard: Citation: HC Deb, 16 February 2011, c83WS
 Stationary office (2001) House of Lords Science and Technology – Sixth Report, 2000, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldselect/ldsctech/123/12301.htm
 Directive 2004/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 amending, as regards traditional herbal medicinal products, Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use
 A joint consultation on the Report to Ministers from the DH Steering Group on the Statutory Regulation of Practitioners of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK http://collections.europarchive.org/tna/20100509080731/http://dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Closedconsultations/DH_103567
 Parliamentary Lobby a Great success! http://saveourherbs.co.uk/2009/11/12/parliamentary-lobby-a-great-success/