Letter: Needle match

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Whether acupuncture should be practised as a branch of medicine is debatable, but that those who give acupuncture should be properly trained does not need debate ("Acupuncture - what's the point", 20 October; Letters, 24 October).

Most patients visiting an acupuncturist have seen their GP in the last month and are visiting a complementary therapist precisely because the Western approach is failing them. There is no evidence to suggest that acupuncturists do not refer patients back to their GP if they have a serious medical problem.

Most GPs who use acupuncture have only had a few weeks training, some only a weekend course. Compare this with the two years' full-time or equivalent part-time training of members of the British Acupuncture Council.

Those of us who are fully trained in traditional Chinese acupuncture see a strong role for GPs and physiotherapists with a limited form of acupuncture and of course welcome any healthcare professional to undertake a full training. What we must all ensure is that patients do not assume that the simple acupuncture technique is traditional acupuncture.


London SW1