16 Apr 2020
Following a request to the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (the Board) about its position on the use of unregistered assistants in acupuncture clinics to remove acupuncture needles from patients, the Board has adopted the following position.
It is the view of the Board that the removal of acupuncture needles from the patient is an integral component of the professional service provided by the registered practitioner. Ensuring adequate public protection requires that this activity should not be delegated to an unregistered assistant.
The Board came to this view following consideration of the aspects outlined below and input from the professional associations.
The authority provided to the Board under the National Law is to regulate Chinese medicine practitioners. While the Board does not have regulatory authority over unregistered assistants, each registered Chinese medicine practitioner is accountable to the Board for the delivery of all aspects of the Chinese medicine service.
The use of unregistered assistants to remove acupuncture needles from the patient would involve direct contact with the patient. When considering this matter, the Board took into consideration recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) policy directions to strengthen public protection under the National Law, directing that Ahpra and National Boards are to prioritise public protection in their work.
Whilst acknowledging that the consideration of public protection is paramount, other important aspects that the Board considered when developing the statement on the Board’s position regarding the use of unregistered assistant to remove acupuncture needles from patients included: