The legal position regarding the practice of Acupuncture during the lock-down period is complex. The Statutory Instrument S1.350 neither specifically prohibits nor sanctions Complematary therapies during lock-down. It does allow other therapies like Osteopathy, Chiropractic and some others which are specifically permitted – and it also has a catch-all permitting other medical and health services.
Although restarting your practice as the law stands today Acupuncture practise could be legal as it is not named specifically in the government back to work guidelines (this is a grey area which could suddenly change from day to day), but is it safe for you, your family and clients? This is one of the dilemmas we are facing, the other is that the health authorities haven’t had time to set out their policy on licencing and the insurers are sitting on the fence with caveats which make their cover uncertain
Once we get clarity from our letter to the Ministry of Health and Social Care, then we can pass that to insurers and by then the government will have clarified with environmental health. At this point hopefully, the position will be more clear, Adequate PPE has to be central to this, but for the immediate few weeks they are wanting to reserve it for the NHS, but no doubt this will be soon be resolved and the public eye will turn more and more to the economy as has already started
The dreaded R infection rate figures may yet change everything, particularly as young people go back to school and people travel more on public transport, so the government policy will be constantly modified under the emergency regulations in place. The situation has to get clearer in the following few weeks as the UK progressively moves back to work and towards full Civil Society. The R rate is different in regions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as are the regulations – which will need to feature in risk assessments and decision making.
So, for now, the Acupuncture Society guidance to therapists remains that we are not approving person to person hands-on therapy yet, but we hope that this will change soon, and when it does we will publish clear guidelines on HSE practise, PPE, triage and risk assessments, clinical hygiene etc to be adopted by members to mitigate the residual risks of COVID 19 and make practise as safe as possible for all concerned.
Corona Virus Bounce Back Loan https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan
Closing certain businesses and venues in England https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance
COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/881489/COVID-19_Infection_prevention_and_control_guidance_complete.pdf
Recommended PPE for primary, outpatient, community and social care by setting, NHS and independent sector https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/878750/T2_poster_Recommended_PPE_for_primary__outpatient__community_and_social_care_by_setting.pdf
Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy
There are different guidelines throughout the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man as to what is permitted and who should return to work.
Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own measures in place which differ from the approach taken in England. Essentially their restrictions on working have not been eased. Their approaches can be summarised as follows:
- Scotland: Lockdown restrictions remain in place for Scotland and the Scottish Government is not currently encouraging more people to go back to work. Find out more here.
- Wales: Apart from modest changes in Wales, the advice remains to stay at home. In an announcement made on 8 May, the Welsh Government extended restrictions for a further three weeks. Find out more here.
- Ireland: On 12 May, the Northern Ireland Executive published a five-step roadmap to end restrictions. The steps are not time-bound to allow for flexibility. Their decision-making approach can be found here.
Furlough Scheme Extension link https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october
World Health Organisation Guidance https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme
The scheme, which is available to self-employed individuals or partnerships, will provide a taxable grant of 80 per cent of average monthly profits (calculated from profits from the last three years) up to a cap of £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to those who earn the majority of their income from self-employment and have profits of less than £50,000.
Acupuncture Society members and other therapists must stop practising hands on treatments now, if you haven’t already stopped, as practising these therapies are no longer compatible with the 2 meter social distancing requirements, insurers now require this to maintain cover. It is still possible to use herbs without face to face contact and depend on photographs of tongues and eyes and client symptoms (its not ideal but can work in the short term – this would be classified as a hand off treatment) please keep an eye on our homepage and newsletters for further updates.
Most professional indemnity cover will not include loss of earning unless you have paid extra for that in a complete business package, and many of those will minimise the conditions where the payout is possible, you would need to check with your insurers about that, things are fast moving and CNHC have also advised against hands on treatments and allow hands off and remote treatments see here:
Click the below link for the most up to date official advice from the NHS website
Here are some useful links for Government financial compensations and NHS advice on symptoms:
COVID-19: support for businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
NHS Advice on what to do and how to spot COVID -19 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Handbook of Covid-19 Prevention and Treament https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VZ37Qb0BGI17EUKgbnfHWa2X3rm_LVsL/view?usp=sharing
COVID-19: guidance for employees https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees
Support for those affected by COVID-19 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Benefits https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-benefits
Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) https://www.ijbs.com/v16p1708.htm
Please save this link or return to the Acupuncture Society homepage for the latest updates https://www.acupuncturesociety.org.uk/