Doctors have been accused of "abandoning patients to quackery" by failing to push for tighter regulation on herbal and Chinese medicine.
The head of one of the Prince of Wales's charities launched an attack on doctors saying they were ''washing their hands'' over tightening the law alternative medicine. Dr Michael Dixon, medical director of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health, said the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) had ''missed the point'' on introducing statutory regulation.
The Government is consulting on the issue after some people suffered liver failure and kidney problems as a result of taking herbal medicines. While the College is in favour of regulating acupuncture, it believes doing so for herbal and traditional Chinese medicine risks giving them credibility.
In its submission to the Government, it said acupuncture should be considered for statutory regulation because evidence had shown it could be beneficial. But it said herbal and traditional medicine was ''largely or completely of unproven benefit''.
It added: ''The vast majority of herbal and traditional Chinese medication is not based on scientific evidence of efficacy. Regulation (except for acupuncture) by regimes similar to those applied to medicine nursing midwifery etc runs the risk of leading the public to believe that these complementary approaches have a similar efficacy.''
The RCP thinks these practices should actually be regulated under consumer protection laws. However, the Prince's Foundation believes patients risk being ''abandoned to quackery'' if the Government fails to introduce statutory regulation of herbalists and acupuncturists.