COVID-19 Updates

The RCHM is closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation and doing all we can to support our Members and keep abreast of developments as they occur. We will update you as things progress.

RCHM Updated Statement - 12/06/20

Following the plan to ease lockdown announced by the government, we are pleased to advise our members that, should they wish to do so, they may shortly move into our next phase of practice. In this next phase, starting on Mon 15th June in England and Northern Ireland, and on Thurs 18th June in Scotland and Wales, our members are now encouraged to treat both "urgent care" and "high needs" patients. A patient with high needs is a patient complaining of a medical condition.

We ask our members to still refrain from practice for treatments that can be defined as wellness/beauty treatments, as these come under the category of personal care. These will be included in our "careful practice" step of easing the lockdown. In England, this would be step 3 of lockdown easing, which we are expecting to take place on 4th July, and this would refer to equivalent steps in the other nations.

Members are still required to do a risk assessment and to follow our back-to-work safety guidelines to minimise risk.


RCHM Statement on face-to-face practice - updated 29/05/20

This RCHM statement on face-to-face practice is issued following the government guidelines regarding the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown in England released on 11th May 2020, and the government guidelines regarding the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown in Northern Ireland and Scotland from 28th May 2020.

As before, the official guidelines do not mention Chinese medicine specifically and are therefore open to interpretation.

The RCHM's position is that Chinese medicine is included under the category of "other medical or health services" which have been exempted from closure.

However, it is important to note that this does not mean a return to standard practice at this stage. We have entered Phase 2 of the COVID pandemic management, where the official government designation of risk is still ‘high’. Reducing any potential spread of the coronavirus is still crucial and equivalent professional bodies have only relaxed their restrictions on practice in a limited way.

It is recommended, therefore, for our members to only return to face-to-face practice for urgent cases, and only after having done a risk assessment of each treatment. We also fully support the decision of any member who wishes to delay return to practice to a later stage of lockdown relaxation.

The following will need to be considered:

  • the practitioner's duty of care,
  • the need of the patient,
  • a risk assessment of the patient,
  • the minimisation of risk by following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

A face-to-face treatment is only warranted if the need of the patient is serious enough to outweigh potential risks, the duty of care cannot be fulfilled by remote means, and the patient has been adequately informed of risk and given full consent. This mirrors the advice currently given to osteopaths and physiotherapists.

The RCHM has been collaborating with the BAcC to issue some robust back-to-work guidelines based on government advice. These will allow members' practices to reach "COVID-19 secure status". Members are required to thoroughly familiarise themselves with these guidelines, and the source documents they come from, to ensure their practices reach COVID-19 secure status before considering any face-to-face treatment.

The RCHM has been given confirmation by both Balens and Lockton insurance companies that our members are insured to practice face-to-face, as long as they adequately evaluate risk and take steps to minimise it in line with government guidelines. 


This statement on face-to-face practice relates to members who practice in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland only. Members who practice in Wales, which is still in full lockdown, are asked to continue to refrain from face-to-face practice. As the devolved governments issue further announcements and clarifications to current policy, the RCHM will update this statement to reflect new official guidelines.


RCHM statement on practice guidelines following the Government's recent announcement

14/05/20

Following the government guidelines issued earlier this week, the RCHM has been working hard to clarify our position on the return to face-to-face practice of Chinese medicine practitioners.

The implications of the government's guidelines are highly complex and multi-faceted as regards our membership. We appreciate many of our members and their patients are keen to hear from us about what our position on face-to-face practice is, and we aim to clarify this as soon as possible.

We have been working with other professional organisations to create a robust 'Back to Work' Health and Safety guideline document which is strictly in line with government announcements. This will provide a clear support structure for safe practice, irrespective of the date of our return to face-to-face practice.

We are hoping to release these guidelines early next week, and, once they have been released, will offer some Zoom Q&A sessions with the main authors of the document, to allow our members to ask questions and gain individual advice on their own practice. We will also be issuing some advice on the appropriate equipment and PPE that you can choose to acquire based on what is required or recommended according to government guidelines.

While, due to the complexity of the discussions, we are unable to give a definite timetable for any decisions, we are strongly hoping to be able to clarify our position with regards to face-to-face practice next week. We appreciate it is important that we should provide guidance as soon as possible in the current situation, and would like to thank our members and their patients for their patience at this complex time.


Current Government Guidance for the public as of May 11th 2020



Joint Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

19/03/20

This is a joint statement issued on behalf of the:

College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy
National Institute of Medical Herbalists
Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine
Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners
European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioner Association
and supersedes all previous versions.

-----------------------------------

The situation with the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop very rapidly and further restrictions may well be likely. In recent weeks we have all been working closely together, holding extensive discussions with Balens, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Department of Health and Social Care and other healthcare organisations in order to provide the best support we can to our members.

In the interests of the safety of herbal practitioners and their patients, we are advising our members to no longer undertake face-to-face consultations. However, due to the legal concerns that we have outlined previously and on which we have been unable to obtain a position statement from the Department of Health and Social Care, we professional associations are unable to change our formal recommendation regarding the use of remote consultations. This is extremely frustrating both for us and for you. If you do wish to move instead to the use of remote methods such as online video or telephone interviews for your patients, it is essential to ensure that:

1. The patient’s history is discussed to the appropriate extent, regardless of the method of consultation.
2. The case note taking/record keeping is suitably detailed regardless of the method of consultation
3. If a practitioner feels unable to dispense as per the patient’s needs without a physical examination, then they do not do so.

We are recommending that our members observe scrupulous attention to cleanliness and wear gloves when dispensing all herbal medicines, and to clean equipment and dispensary surfaces regularly using appropriate cleaning agents. If wished, and if available, a suitable face mask can also be worn. When dispensing, wearing a designated lab coat or designated clothing is recommended to avoid contamination risks, and these should be washed frequently.

Working to avoid the spread of the virus between ourselves, our patients and within the wider community is vitally important. Please also continue to observe all guidance provided by the Department of Health to keep yourself and those around you safe. We will be closely monitoring further developments and reporting back on how these might impact on the guidance we have given here.