Complementary Therapy Features

How to find a trusted practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Where’s the best place to start when you’re looking for TCM treatment? L-SL talks to Dr Tianjun Wang, who is a specialist TCM practitioner, academic and member of the council at the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine…

If you stroll around any London neighbourhood, be it Camden or Camberwell, you’re likely to find several Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics offering complementary treatments.

If this kind of treatment is new to you, then you may be unsure about stepping inside your nearest clinic and booking an appointment. So what are the things that you should consider when choosing a TCM practitioner?

How to choose a TCM practitioner

First, it’s worth noting that there is no state regulation of TCM or acupuncture. Anyone can set themselves up as a practitioner. A TCM practitioner for over 27 years and council member of the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM), Dr Tinjuan Wang says: ‘TCM and acupuncture are self-regulating. It is therefore wise to choose someone who is a member of a regulated professional body.’

A sensible first step would be to search the register of the ATCM. The ATCM is a professional body which checks and regulates its members and ensures that they follow strict hygiene and safety standards. Dr Wang says: ‘The aims of the ATCM are to protect the public and to ensure quality and safety of treatment.’

In order to become a member, practitioners must prove they are qualified and experienced. Dr Wang says: ‘We request degree level or equivalent. Most of our members are doctors from China who have five years’ full-time training at university then a year’s practice in hospital. They also have to pass an exam interview with us.’

‘In addition, every year, members must renew their membership, and provide evidence of continuing personal development.’

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Hygiene should be of primary importance when you are considering any kind of medical treatment, and this is essential for acupuncture. Practitioners should only use single-use pre-sterilised needles. Dr Wang says: ‘The ATCM Code of Practice sets out strict hygiene standards for our members to follow and these standards are enforced and checked.’

‘Every year we request that members perform a self-audit. And we randomly select two per cent of members to visit and check their standards of hygiene and safety.’

In the same way as you would expect certain standards of conduct and ethics from your GP, the ATCM’s Code of Conduct sets out standards for its members to follow. Dr Wang says: ‘All members agree to be bound by our Code of Conduct, which ensures patient confidentiality, professional conduct and competence.’

In the event that you are not happy with your treatment then you can make a complaint to the ATCM’s Professional Conduct Committee. ‘We have a formal process for dealing with any issues if people are unhappy or have a complaint about our members,’ says Dr Wang. ‘The quality of treatment and the health of the public come first.’