Commission changes approach to alternative medicine charities

11 Dec 2018 News

Homeopathic remedies

The Charity Commission has said it will update its approach to registering charities providing complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.

The Commission consulted last year on CAM charities, following the threat of a judicial review of its approach to homeopathy by the Good Thinking Society, a registered charity which encourages curiosity and rational thinking.

The consultation prompted 670 responses from a wide variety of organisations and individuals, and the Commission has now changed its approached and updated its guidance.

It has clarified that a CAM therapy must show medical evidence if it claims to treat or cure a disease, but those therapies which claim to provide comfort or wellbeing to patients may not necessarily require medical trials.

The regulator says this updated approach will reduce the risk that organisations will benefit from charitable status while being unable to evidence their health benefit.

David Holdsworth, registrar and deputy chief executive of the Charity Commission, said: “I am confident that this outcome, as well as reflecting the law and the available evidence, will serve to increase the public’s confidence in registered charities and the benefit they provide. 

“Our updated approach means the public will be better able to make informed choices about CAM charities and whether they wish to support them or use their services.

“Our review was not about whether CAM is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or should be made available through public health provision – that is a matter for others. And nor do we expect our outcome necessarily to please all those with strong views about CAM generally. 

“Our focus is on the integrity of the register of charities. We know the public place value on the concept of charity, and we must ensure that the register of charities is accurate and that only organisations that are, in law, charities are registered as such.”

Charities interested in good governance can now sign up to attend the Trustee Exchange conference in April next year.


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