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3 Comments

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    Chris Hartwell

    It’s not controversial – it’s just not based on evidence.

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    Claire Hewat

    This is an interesting article but I must dispute the assertion that ‘there is not one skerrick of evidence that registration results in increased recognition.’ Oh yes there is! All the well recognised evidence based professions which because they are not considered ‘dangerous’ and are therefore not registered such as speech pathologists, dietitians, audiologists etc have suffered constant and ongoing discrimination from the public who think being registered makes you better, right through to government departments who continually ignore or disregard these important professions because they are second class citizens in the regulation world. So would registration give naturopaths greater validity – yes it would. That said good robust self regulation can work and many of us have demonstrated that over many years. Perhaps a full analysis of the issue rather than concentrating on one profession or one sensational case would be of greater value.

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    Jon Wardle

    Hi Claire, thanks for your comments. I would be legitimately interested in evidence of this discrimination. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t exist, but it is a hypothesis that hasn’t been formally tested, though it definitely should be (in fact, we have done pilot work and have a grant proposal under assessment on this very issue). In relation to naturopaths, there is in fact some research showing the public already *think* they’re regulated, which could make it even more complicated – in fact, I was once referred by a state (which will remain unnamed) health complaints commissioner’s office to get some information for one of our projects from that state’s naturopathic board, as even they had assumed it was a regulated profession! What hope do the public have of navigating it!

    I focused on this single issue of naturopaths solely because the reports and assessments showing that naturopaths need to be regulated have been tabled at COAG since 2008. It really is unforgivable form a public health perspective that they’ve not moved on this for various reasons. And really this whole fiasco could have been avoided if they hadn’t sat on their hands.

    In fact, I agree with you on the other points you’ve raised as well. Self-regulation can work – but only if there is professional unity and a strong accreditation incentive (for dietitians and speech pathologists hospital accreditation to some extent serves as this), but in many professions this is not the case (including many of those in NRAS). One thing to consider too is that the health system is changing, and profession not registered may need to be reconsidered. One of the arguments against dietitians, for example, was that they worked under registered practitioners. But as more dietitians begin to increasingly work in non-supervised private practice this may need to be reassessed. Scope expansions and task substitution is another issue (particularly relevant to speech pathologists) as unregistered professions are increasingly asked to perform tasks once restricted to registered professions on safety grounds. We have a paper on this coming out soon. Would love to discuss more, I agree this issue goes beyond this case and beyond this profession, but am running out of characters!

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