Nutritional Therapists Fail to Join Ofquack

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, Ofquack, is having an appalling start to its life. Needing 10,000 people to join its register in the first year to break even, it has collected less than 300 names. This should be put in context with a claimed “150,000 complementary healthcare practitioners in the UK.”

Part of the problem is that, at the moment, Ofquack is only allowing nutritional therapists and massage therapists to join. The bulk of the members so far are massage therapists with just a few nutritionists having paid the fee. The CNHC claims to have the cooperation of the ‘professional’ bodies that represent the trades they want to regulate. Is this really true? My first ever post on the CNHC suggested that the new body was struggling to gain the support of existing bodies, and that this problem appeared to be so severe as to threaten the new bodies very existence.

Nutritional Therapists have a ‘professional body’ called BANT, the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy. BANT appear to back the formation of a unified regulator and have issued the following statement:

The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy fully supports the recommendation that all nutrition professionals involved in providing advice to the public should come under the strictest regulation. Voluntary self regulation is now under way with the Nutritional Therapy Council and we expect the register will be taken over by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) in January 2009.

So, how come so few nutritional therapists have joined? Let’s have a look at the governing council of BANT and the members who are qualified and working in some professional capacity as a nurtritional therapist:

Emma Stiles BSc (Hons), NT
Chair of BANT Council

T. Callis BSc (Hons) NT
Deputy Chair BANT Council

Avril McCracken Dip ION
Company Secretary

John Googe Dip ION
Honorary Treasurer

Jayne Nelson Dip ION
Chair of PR Committee

Simon Lewis Dip BCNH
Chair of Members Forum Committee

Faye Baxter BSc NM
Council Member

Jill Barber Dip ION, FDSc Nutritional Therapy
Council Member

Catherine Honeywell BSc (Hons)Food Science, Dip RAW Nutrition, BSYA (Irid), MBANT
Council Member

Running each of these names through the CNHC register uncovers that not one of these people has bothered to register themselves with the new regulator. It would look as if BANT is not fully behind this enterprise.

BANT is not the only body representing nutritionists. The Nutritional Therapy Council claims to be the current regulator and, according the Princes’ Foundation for Integrated Health, is “transferring the administration of its practitioner register” to the CNHC. How many of the senior nutritionists at the NTC have joined Ofquack? Well, in a display of superb openness and transparency, the NTC do not list their officers and so we cannot find out who their leaders are.

However, we can guess that not too many have rushed to join the register. For despite early signs of eagerness to join this state sponsored enterprise, the NTC issued the following statement last  February,

The NTC is in discussion with the CNHC about the maintenance of standards for registration of nutritional therapy practitioners. In the interim, the NTC has suspended the transfer of registration to the CNHC and will be maintaining the NTC register in operation.

So, the NTC have for some reason seen fit not to transfer their powers away. Why, we do not know.

What of other senior figures in the world of Nutritional Therapy. Well, the most obvious figure is Patrick Holford, the founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition that has trained a significant fraction of the UK’s nutritionists. Well, obviously, Patrick has not seen fit to register himself, despite his claims to be at the forefront of  patient research. What of his various organisations that he has involvement with, like ION and the Brain Bio Institute? Well, the ION runs patient clinics. We can see a list of nutrionists who work with the public,

Amanda Moore
BSc Hons, DipION, MBANT – Female health specialist

Joanna Coker
Fd/Sc DipION mBANT NTC

Susie Perry
Bsc Hons Dip ION

Alison Peacham
BEd Hons, DipION, MBANT – Children’s health specialist

Sally Child
SRN, HV, Dip ION, MBANT, Fellow ION – Children’s Health Specialist

No. Not a single registration.

Are their education team setting an example to their students?

DIRECTOR of EDUCATION
Valerie Bullen (MSc, BSc, FIBMS, MIBiol, CBiol, PGCE, FHEA

SENIOR CURRICULUM MANAGER
Nigel Hinchliffe (BSc, DipION)

SCIENCE ACCESS COURSES PROGRAMME LEADER
Michael Beckerman (BSc, AKC, FZS)

EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Alison Peacham (BEd Hons, DipION)

CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Carmel Buckley (BSc Hons, DipION)

Again, not a single registration.

How about Patrick Holford’s schools charity, Food for the Brain? Surely, a body that works so closely with children should be at the forefront of setting an example by registering?

The nutritionists listed are:

Lorraine Perretta DipION

Deborah Colson DipION

Maro Limnios LL.B Hons solicitor, DipION

Whoops. No. Again.

It would look like the senior members of the Nutritional Therapy profession have rejected the CNHC. Indeed, as I write, it would look like that only 38 nutritional quacks have bothered to stump up their cash. Why, I do not know.

For it is quite easy to speculate why nutritional therapists do not want to join. My own view of nutritional therapy is a that nutritionists have been trained to be little more than a vitamin pill sales force. Patrick Holford, the godfather of the profession, is “Head of Science and Education at Biocare” after selling his own business to them a few years ago. Biocare are part of the Neutrahealth ‘consolidator’ of vitamin pill selling companies. Nutritional Therapists, under their current ‘code of ethics’ at BANT are allowed to get kick backs from the pill manufacturers if they sell their customers pills. One would doubt that a more dispassionate regulator would be so happy about this clear conflict of interest.

So, our tax money has funded the registration of quacks with the CNHC to the sum of about £4,000 per quack. It is not clear where they are going to get the money they need to keep going. The registration fees they have so far collected would keep them going for about a week. Other professions are supposed to be joining soon. Will they be forthcoming? So far only the massage therapists have been in any way compliant. And then only a couple of hundred of them.

Things must be getting pretty frantic. If Ofquack cannot get the nutritionists to play ball then the whole project must be over now. How much more money will they waste before the inevitable happens?

It is about time the government took a fresh look at this whole issue. The current situation has arisen after a House of Lords report in 2000 recommended a unified register for a wide range of alternative medicine practitioners. The governments big mistake was to put the process of setting this up in the hands of Prince Charles. Nothing sensible was ever going to be forthcoming. the farce was was predictable. It has happened.

20 comments for “Nutritional Therapists Fail to Join Ofquack

  1. zeno
    April 20, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Brilliant research, Andy!

    Did you know BANT only have 1,591 nutriquacks registered?

  2. Le Canard Noir
    April 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Yes. I should have put that in. Ofquack say they need 10,000 members to break even but it is just not clear where those quacks are going to come from. I think they have vastly overestimated the potential numbers of registrants. Given they had so long to prepare for the register, it is stunning just how wrong it could have gone.

  3. Clarinda
    April 21, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Reports from supermarkets indicate a fall in the sale of ‘organic’ foods – indeed some organic farmers have returned to normal production to make ends meet. Perhaps the same financial reserve has hit the quackophile customers (I can’t bring myself to refer to them as patients) who, in a moment of enlightenment during this financial depression, have realised that their money might be better spent? I wonder if the quackophiles have decamped – leaving the quacks with the difficulty of having to attract custom via scientific sensibility (a tricky one) rather than relying the life-style loose change in the quackophile pocket? I’d check the Job Centres for ex-nutritionists seeking jobs stacking shelves in continental-owned supermarkets?

  4. Le Canard Noir
    April 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    That is interesting and I have anecdotal evidence that many quacks do struggle to make a living with many homeopaths, for example, just seeing a few pat, sorry, customers per week. But many quacks are not really in it for the cash per se, it is a calling. Even so, paying dues to umpteen regulators is not going to be high on their priorities.

    I am not sure it is just recession though. The rise of the internet is disintermediating the quacks. People can go online, find their quackery of choice, buy their own pills and potions online and cut out the middlequack.

  5. zeno
    April 21, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Andy said: “…cut out the middlequack.”

    LOL! {splutter} nearly covered my screen in wine at that one…!

  6. UK dietitian
    April 22, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    “Middlequack”

    I predict the one millionth-and-one word to enter the OED in, say, ooh, 3 years time

  7. Moyra Cosgrove
    May 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    As a BSc Hons qualified nutritionist (NOT nutritional therapist) I spend some of my time clearing up the mess that these ION people leave with members of the public who have had the misfortune to take advice from them (and pay handsomely for it). One lady I met had been sold £100+ supplements by an ION and had taken them for less than a week because they made her feel unwell. I advised her to take them back and ask for a full refund – of course, this was refused. The public should be made aware that only degree qualified nutritionists and dietitians have appropriate training in this subject. ION simply exists to sell supplements and to line Holford’s pockets.

  8. Anonymous
    May 11, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Whatever we think of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator is better than no regulator at all, and the govt in their wisdom have decided that complementary therapy does not need compulsory regulation.
    a little duck told me that the reason why the Nutritional Therapy Council is dragging their heels in joining the CNHC, is because the CNHC want to open the doors to ‘nutrition practitioners’ who have not met the National Occupational Standard for nutritional therapy that was set by Skills for Health. The NTC have been trying for some time to impose a minimum level of training, to protect the public from unskilled practitioners and from some of the questionable practices mentioned in this and other blogs on the subject. Also on the scene now is private ‘regulator’ the GRCCT, set up by a breakaway faction from the embryonic CNHC, which seems to be undermining the tax-funded CNHC. see also the FNTP, another breakaway ‘nutritionist body’ which opposes regulation.
    One big mess with public safety at risk!

  9. Le Canard Noir
    May 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    “Whatever we think of the CNHC, a voluntary regulator is better than no regulator at all”

    I have yet to hear any sound argument that expresses what these benefits are.

  10. Virginia Harry DipION
    May 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I will step into the lion’s den and say that, as an ION-trained nutritional therapist, we are not encouraged to recommend supplements and, in fact, many of our tutors don’t use them at all for their “customers”. There are horror stories about all professions, and there are good and bad practitioners in them all. I think it’s very sad that you tar all nutritional therapists with the same brush and have made them all bad. I have seen many people helped, some with just one appointment, with good nutritional advice from ION-trained NTs.

  11. Le Canard Noir
    May 14, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you for commenting, Virginia. Perhaps you would like to share your opinions on why so few nutritional therapists are not joining the new regulator?

  12. NutritionalTherapyCouncil
    May 15, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    The reason why so few NT’s have joined the register is because the Nutritional Therapy Council (NTC) has suspended transfer of registrants to the CNHC register. The NTC was established by several NT Professional Bodies and supported by the DoH to set up independant registration and training accreditation for nutritional therapy. The NTC register was established before the CNHC was launched, and the original intent was to pass the register over, with the permission of the registrants, to the CNHC. We started the process, hence the few NTs on the register, then suspended the transfer due to a number of issues, which we are trying to resolve.
    Basically the issue relates to the NTC’s wish that all applicants for CNHC registration meet the National Occupational Standard for nutritional therapy, by either having an appropriately accredited qualification, or by going through an assessment scheme which is modelled on the HPC model for experienced practitioners who trained before accredited training courses were available. Applicants are assessed on their portfolio of evidence of training, CPD and case histories which demonstrate safe, effective and lawful practice.
    The NTC considers that the maintenance of standards in nutritional therapy practice and training is a matter of upmost importance.

  13. Le Canard Noir
    May 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Once again. Thank you. Do you know what the CNHC position on this is and why they would wish to accept different standards?

  14. Virginia Harry
    May 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I’d be interested in that answer myself!

  15. Amanda Moore
    July 3, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I note I receive a mention on your site as an ION practitioner I also have a BSc and am currently studying for an MSc in Nutrition at Kings College London (so would argue that many holding the ION and BANT labels have excellent academic credentials and professional ethics)….however on the subject of the CNHC – before I realised they wouldn't accept my application because of the NTC issue, I filled in the forms and wrote my cheque to the CNHC. Other than getting my neighbour to witness they knew me in the way that they may sign a passport form, there was nothing needed to show any degree of professional practice. Compared to the more exacting requirements of the NTC (in terms of needing to show evidence of professional development courses and that graduates bring their knowledge up to date in areas where their particular course may not have been strong for example) the CNHC were seriously lacking. I feel very strongly about the establishment of recognised professional standards for nutritional therapists and I have little faith that the CNHC are the organisation to do it.

    • May 29, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      During my BCNH diploma in Nutritional Therapy I dropped out, because I felt deceived by BCNH, due to concerns related to: 1) lack of transparency, 2) inadequate teaching methodologies, expertise and resources, 3) academically unrecognised, not validated and unaccredited institution/course certificate, and 4) financial related issues. To sum up, the course in general (including their teaching, attitudes towards students, recognition, etc…) was of no value for the high fees I was paying. As a fully qualified teacher myself I feel that BCNH’s teaching methods, expertise and resources are very poor. I feel that the CNHC should be concerned in this regard. If you wish to read more about my experiences at BCNH I created a blog with attached evidence to support my comments http://bcnhexperiences.blogspot.co.uk/

  16. Paula
    May 25, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I started a course with BCNH…I am really unhappy with they poor lesson delivery and their greediness for my money.

  17. May 29, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    During my BCNH diploma in Nutritional Therapy I dropped out, because I felt deceived by BCNH, due to concerns related to: 1) lack of transparency, 2) inadequate teaching methodologies, expertise and resources, 3) academically unrecognised, not validated and unaccredited institution/course certificate, and 4) financial related issues. To sum up, the course in general (including their teaching, attitudes towards students, recognition, etc…) was of no value for the high fees I was paying. As a fully qualified teacher myself I feel that BCNH’s teaching methods, expertise and resources are very poor. I feel that the CNHC should be concerned in this regard. If you wish to read more about my experiences at BCNH I created a blog with attached evidence to support my comments http://bcnhexperiences.blogspot.co.uk/

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