March 5 2017

EHTPA interim response to the Government's response to the Walker Report on the future of Herbal Medicine Practice in the UK.

On 28th February the Government responded to the Walker Report in a ministerial statement in the Commons (repeated in the Lords).
You can read this response and refresh your memory about the Walker Report as well as read the report prepared by the Herbal Medicine Advisory Committee (HMAC) using these links:

The statement from Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Sec of State for Health is available at:
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2017-02-28/HCWS505

The Walker Report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417768/Report_on_Regulation_of_Herbal_Medicines_and_Practitioners.pdf

The HMAC safety report is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/545681/HMAC_-_HerbalsafetyOctober2014Final.pdf

As you will read, the Government accepts the majority of the Walker Report's recommendations rejecting the second and third recommendations. Rejection of the second recommendation means that the Government will not reclassify herbal medicines as foods.

This is welcome news because the herbs used as foods are not subject to risk benefit assessment and are not permitted to have any adverse effects.
Walker's third recommendation, which called on the Government to consider a system to allow small scale assembly of products off site on a named patient basis, has been rejected.

This is disappointing as it is very difficult for many individual  practitioners to service their patients' needs without such third party supply. We will be seeking to discuss this further with the Government.
We will also be seeking to discuss further the Government's recommendation that all herbalists join the Professional Standards Authority. Page 3 of the letter ( see http://riverfrontmedia.co.uk/EHTPA/Letter%20from%20members%20of%20the%20Herbal%20Working%20Group%20to%20Minister.docx) from dissenting members of the Department of Health Working Group clearly lays out the drawbacks of this proposed new system of voluntary registration that in no way measures up to the benefits of  bone-fide statutory regulation of our sector originally promised in 2011.

The Government makes it clear that there will be a review of the use of potent herbal medicines laid down in Schedule 20 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. We will be actively engaged in any such review ensuring that we continue to have the widest possible access to our herbal medicines.

This is a preliminary response to that of the Government on the Walker Report. We will be reporting back the results of further discussion with the Department of Health and the MHRA. We continue to work to achieve the best deal possible for our patients and the future delivery of herbal medicine by practitioners.