A brief history of UK Healers
A paper from the House of Lords in 2000 called for the regulation of a number of complementary therapies. Healing was one of them. Five large healing organisations joined together to respond to this call.
BAHA, NFSH, SNU, World Federation and HPAI met at the instigation of Ken Baker. The group named themselves the Healing Movement Lead Body Development Group. They started off by producing some standards for training etc. based upon their own material being used at the time and sought common ground.
The HPAI had difficulty with this approach, left the group and started the Global Forum as an alternative. HMLBDG compiled a directory of all organisations that might be involved in healing and sent them the standards in a consultation exercise.
There were about 140 organisations canvassed. Some took an interest in the work and attended meetings. Colin Baker and others present today became involved at this point and have become key players in getting UKH to the point it has reached.
It was also at about this stage that what became the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health began to take an interest in our efforts. They had developed ideas how groups such as UK Healers should proceed and were working similarly with about a dozen or so similar groups for different therapies.
Each had a representative from PoWFIH who attended their meetings. As the work of our group progressed, more and more organisations joined in. The initial draft standards were reworked based upon the wider input and were first formally published in 2003 along with a name change to UK Healers.
The Chair at the time was Ken Wyatt. UK Healers began issuing a regular newsletter and, as required by PoWFIH, an Independent Chair was appointed with the costs being shared equally between UKH and PoWFIH.
At that time, UK Healers represented something like 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 healers in UK.
All organisations belonging to UK Healers were asked to commit to meeting the published standards with a view to their material being accredited as meeting them.
There was a staged process.
- Stage 1 being that they committed themselves to meet the standards.
- Stage 2 being that they advised UKH that they met the standards.
- Stage 3 being that they had provided the material to UKH for assessment.
- Stage 4 was the most significant because this was the point when UKH agreed that they met the standards.
- There is intended to be a Stage 5 which is where there is a physical audit at the organisation to check that the material agreed is actually being used as described. But we have not yet implemented Stage 5.
However, in 2005 it was announced at one of the PoWFIH regular events that they were starting up a “Federal” approach to the regulation of complementary therapies with the aim that all the separate groups would join together. Until then POWFIH had favoured an approach in which each therapy was to have its own regulator. The federal approach was to have one regulator for all therapies.
Unfortunately by this time, UK Healers had become dissatisfied with the Independent Chair who seemed to want to pursue an agenda that was not in line with the wishes of the groups involved.
UK Healers were also concerned that the Federal approach to regulation and the costs involved whilst possibly viable for disciplines in which the therapists earned their living was not suited to healing because healers generally work on a voluntary basis and cannot as a general rule be expected to pay significant amounts annually for registration. Unfortunately POWFIH did not want to hear this message.
So a decision was made to terminate the use of the Independent Chair and not to join in the Federal Group. Instead it was decided to press on with the UK Healers accreditation process. This also meant that the support we were getting from PoWFIH was downgraded.
The Accreditation process was not the only work being taken forward at this time.
In 2006 UKH was invited to contribute to the development of National Occupational Standards for Healing being funded by Skills for Health.
This work led to the revision of the UK Healers Standards in 2007 – known as the 2nd Version.
The accreditation work went on through 2007-8 when it was completed. As a result, about 75% of all of the estimated number of healers in UK were accredited as meeting the UK Healers Standards. This was a very significant achievement!
This coincided with the launch of the complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) with support of Government start up funding and CNHC encouraged set up of a Profession Specific Body for Healing which chose not to include UK Healers representatives within its membership. That was unfortunate since neither CNHC nor the PSB had the means at that stage to assess whether individuals were fit to be registered although UK Healers was in a position to do that.
When all UK Healers member organisations were accredited and we thought that UK Healers was in a position to announce itself as regulator for healing the POWFIH view had become that the only regulator recognised was CNHC. The CNHC Healing PSB comprised individuals who put themselves forward and who were more concerned with representing that anyone wanting to work in the NHS environment would find it easier if they registered with CNHC as the Department of Health funded the CNHC for the first few years.
There was also another independent regulator, the General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapists (GRCCT) that UK Healers had contact with in a second round of Skills for Health led work to develop National Occupational Standards for Healing. Subsequently UK Healers teamed up with CHO to become the joint lead body for healers with GRCCT.
There was concern at the time over the government position on voluntary regulation and whether they had plans to do something more. We wrote to David Treddinick MP to advise him of the UK Healers position and sought some clarification. David Treddinick is the chair of the Parliamentary Group for Complementary and Integrated Healthcare. Colin Baker went to several meetings of this group and met Mr. Treddinick.
More recently it became clear that Government oversight of the Healthcare regulators was coming and that that oversight would apply not just to those groups subject to statutory regulation but would involve all regulatory bodies and significant and inescapable costs. In the circumstances UKH members concluded that it would not be in healers’ best interests for UK Healers to become a body subject to this regulatory oversight. We agreed that it would serve our discipline better to be able to smooth the path to registration by either CNHC or GRCCT for those healers who sought work with bodies that required that type of registration while we continue to maintain standards that apply for all other healers belonging to UKH member organisations.
The initial Verifying Bodies for CNHC were essentially the organisations who had representatives on the Healing PSB such as BAHA and THT.
It took time and effort to get UK Healers accepted as a Verifying Body but this effort proved well worthwhile to a point where UK Healers were for some time, the only Healing verifying body able to meet CNHC requirements.
Along the way, UK Healers membership has changed. BAHA and SNU both involved from the outset have dropped out of UK Healers but for different reasons and the numbers of healers not just those covered by UK Healers have also dropped significantly. But after a period of separations in which some larger organisations have lost members who have formed new groupings there are signs that momentum is returning and demand for healer training is growing again.
Against this background UK Healers has been considering how best to serve the healing community in the future. We need make ourselves known. To this end, there was an interview published in 2012 in the Psychic News with Colin Baker, our current chair and we know we need to do more to publicise the benefits of healing and UK Healers and our member organisations. This will be our focus from now on and the more groups that belong to UK Healers the more effective our efforts can be.
Although the number of healers now associated with UK Healers is a fraction of the 15,000 that there were in 2008, the legacy of UK Healers is that they brought the standard of the majority of healers to a high standard. Although the standards that existed in 2008 have been updated, the essence is much the same now as it was then.