Last Friday (15.1.21) I learned about a landmark change for the acupuncture profession within the UK. This change means that acupuncture professionals who have completed a three year degree level training are to be given the same recognition as osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists by the ONS (Office for National Statistics). It is wonderful to have some good news coming from this pandemic, which has left many acupuncturists like me feeling that our clinical skills are not much valued by the government – and unsure if we can even work – or if we are viewed along side beauty therapists using microblading and tattooists – who also pierce the skin with needles.
This welcome development is largely down to the efforts of the BAA (British Acupuncture Association) and its umbrella professional body the British Acupuncture Federation.
You can read more about the changes by clicking this link to the BAA website
The BAA have worked hard to ensure acupuncturists can work during the pandemic and made great efforts for us to gain recognition as Key Workers in terms of accessing the Covid vaccine. I will just have to see if my GP agrees now! Either way, I will strive to maintain the highest professional and safety standards in my practice and look forward to helping people at what is very difficult time for so many of us.
Helping Long Covid patients to recover with acupuncture
I am particularly interested in working with Long Covid patients and believe the therapies I offer can potentially be of benefit to illness sufferers where the rapid NICE guidance has identified there are currently no evidence based interventions on offer. I hope that our change of status will assist with helping us to become better integrated with our NHS and conventional medical colleagues for the treatment of Long Covid (as it seems we have been left out so far) – and that acupuncturists like me can play a role in the multidisciplinary teams that will be supporting Long Covid patients. Many Long Covid patients suffer psychological problems as well the profound fatigue that characterises the illness for a large proportion of sufferers. Evidence suggests that acupuncturists are well placed to help these people – with our chronic illness patients reporting changes to symptoms and improved energy as an outcome of treatment (Paterson and Britten, 2004), and depression sufferers showing improvement to mood and to improved outcomes for bodily pain when they received treatment with acupuncture, compared with counselling (Hopton et al, 2014). Low energy and lack of motivation are characteristic features of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) as well as depressive illness. Debates continue within the medical profession as to whether Long Covid is a distinctly different illness from CFS but research into acupuncture for CFS, whilst limited, does indicate that acupuncture is a promising treatment – See British Acupuncture Council – Evidence Review
I know if I had Long Covid I would find the support of a professional acupuncturist most welcome. GPs are able to make referrals to acupuncturists now with new guidance from the GMC – so please do mention acupuncture to your doctor if you are suffering with Long Covid. The more people who ask for our therapy the more the medical profession and NHS will start to look in our direction when there is a therapeutic vacuum we could potentially fill.