Prescribing fresh rules for industry

PRIVATE health care funds are regulating the complementary medicine industry, according to naturopath Bill Higgins.

The Bargara specialist said that while the plan to put an easily accessible register in place was sound, private health care funds had regulated the industry more than the government in the last 10 years.

“The health funds are getting stricter,” he said.

“People who once were qualified now must have an advanced diploma.”

The naturopath of 20 years said complementary medicine practitioners also had to undergo yearly upgrades before people who went to them were able to claim a rebate through their private health fund.

“That's always been around, but it's enforced now,” Mr Higgins said.

“Now you have to have proof every year that you've been to X amount of seminars.

“It's a good idea in that it's like being a doctor.

“There's new tablets and treatments coming out all the time.”

The naturopath said that the idea of an official register of naturopaths and herbalists appealed to him and was another step towards properly regulating the industry.

The steering committee planning to set up the register by 2010 is nearly ready for the next step in the process - the formation of a board.

Committee spokesman Paul Orrock said numerous meetings had taken place and the submissions date for suggestions about the development of a board has been extended until the end of November.

“We expect the board will set up minimum qualifications and an ethical code of conduct,” Mr Orrock said.

The Lismore naturopath and lecturer said private health funds should not be governing the education requirements and other qualifications that industry professionals were expected to maintain.

“You take any conflicts of interest away, with a register,” Mr Orrock said.

“The health funds are asking for some education and a certain level of professionalism and it's better that the industry itself governs that.”


• For more information about the register, or to make submissions to the steering committee about the board visit

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