Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for The Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners


It is a condition of membership of the URHP that all members must comply with the code of Ethics and Conduct, as well as the Constitution.

Legal Requirements

The practitioner must practise within the limits of any laws that pertain to the practise of herbal medicine, or any other therapy that he/she practices, within the country in which he/she practises. In the United Kingdom he/she must be aware of the relevant sections of the 1968 Medicines Act.

The practitioner shall not treat any condition proscribed by statute, or animals without the permission or supervision of a veterinary surgeon.

Notifiable diseases should be reported in accordance to applicable laws.

The Profession

  1. The practitioner shall display integrity, honourable conduct and professionalism and not commit any acts that bring herbal medicine or the register into disrepute.
  2. In order to maintain membership and the highest standards of practice the practitioner must undertake the CPD requirements as currently set by the Register.
  3. The practitioner must not claim to be able to cure a specific illness, or misrepresent the effectiveness of the practice of herbal medicine.
  4. The practitioner must not deliberately persuade a patient to see them who is already seeing a professional colleague, however the patient has the right to see whom he/she chooses to consult.
  5. The practitioner shall not in any way slander or libel a professional colleague, in the case of serious concern he/she shall instigate the disciplinary procedure.
  6. The practitioner shall not address a member of staff as nurse unless that person holds such a legally recognised qualification recognised in the country of practice.
  7. The practitioner shall not use titles or descriptions suggesting medical, academic or educational qualifications unless he/she possesses them. A member must not mislead a patient into believing that he/she are a medical doctor, unless he/she is legally recognised as such within the country in which he/she practises. Those possessing doctorates in other subjects whilst being able to use the title of Dr. must make it clear that he/she are not medical doctors.


A member is responsible for possessing professional indemnity insurance in all of the countries in which he/she practices for the practice of herbal medicine as well as any other therapy which he/she practice in respect of patient, practice, public and product liabilities.


  1. The practitioner must practise from premises that are appropriate to the professionalism of herbal medicine. Signs and nameplates used should be within the boundaries of professional discretion.
  2. The premises must comply with all relevant current health and safety regulations to ensure that there is adequate lighting, heating, ventilation, toilets, electrical installations, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
  3. Only certificates and diplomas from bona fide educational establishments and professional registers should be displayed.
  4. A first aid kit must be available on the premises at anytime.


  1. The practitioner may advertise in health journals, newspapers and other appropriate publications subject to the advertisement being of a high professional standard and being in no way misleading. In cases of doubt the member may refer to the publicity officer for guidance.
  2. The practitioner may not advertise by means of unsolicited canvassing by door-to-door, telephone or postal means.

Practice Management And Dispensing

  1. The practitioner shall ensure that any staffs that he/she employs are capable of performing the task for which he/she is employed. This is especially important where someone is employed to dispense herbal medicines, as the practitioner is ultimately responsible for the safety of all dispensing, except where a professional herbal company runs a dispensing service.
  2. The practitioner is responsible for ensuring that the materia medica that he/she stocks is of good quality and within the limits of its shelf life. The use of a reputable herbal supplier who has in place good quality control procedures can be taken as sufficient evidence of good quality.
  3. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to ascertain and record any other medications with dosages that the patient is taking and to be aware of any potential contra indications due to drug/herb interactions.
  4. All prescriptions should carry clear instructions to the patient as to how he/she are used and when he/she are taken; he/she should be clearly labelled with the date, the ingredients (unless given on an accompanying sheet), the patient’s name, and the practitioners name and contact details.
  5. The practitioner must have a clear practice complaints procedure available for patient use.
  6. At the onset of treatment the practitioner must be clear about issues such as the cost of treatment and herbal medicines, the possible duration of treatment, confidentiality, the practitioners role in relationship to other healthcare practitioners and availability for contact -especially in emergencies. If a treatment other than herbal medicine is/could be offered then this should be made clear to the patient.

The Practitioner

  1. The highest aim of the practitioner should be to restore the mental, emotional and physical health of the patient, and all herbal treatments should be concordant with this.
  2. The practitioner must practice within the limits of his/her professional competence, where necessary refer the patient to the appropriate health professional.
  3. The practitioner shall at all times be courteous and professional in his/her conduct, and treat without prejudice regardless of sex, race, disability, religion, politics or cultural background.
  4. The practitioner must not under any circumstances enter into an intimate sexual relationship with any current patient. Nor must he/she in any way physically or mentally abuse or assault a patient.
  5. The practitioner may not prescribe any herbal treatment that is prohibited by statute.
  6. In the examination of intimate areas – the breast, internal or external genitalia, anus, and perineum – written consent must be obtained from the patient and it is recommended that a chaperone is present. The practitioner must wear medical gloves, as a protection for themselves and the patient. Some internal examinations may require medical lubrication. Patients must be covered as much as possible at time of examination. It is advisable to inform your patient of the procedure. The reason and method for such an examination should be made clear to the patient, and be recorded in the notes.
  7. The practitioner must be aware of any mental, emotional or physical health problems that interfere with his/her ability to practice competently, and, when he/he becomes so aware, should seek help at the earliest possible opportunity.
  8. If a point is reached at which the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient has seriously broken down the practitioner should take steps to refer the patient to another qualified medical/health practitioner.
  9. The practitioner shall hold a current First Aid Certificate the minimum permissible being an Appointed Persons certificate.
  10. If undertaking any form of research other than an internal clinical audit the practitioner must strictly follow accepted research ethics and obtain patient consent for the research, as well as maintaining patient confidentiality.
  11. The practitioner who suspects that a child is being subjected to physical or sexual abuse must contact the Child Protection Officer at the local Social Services Department.

The Patient

  1. The patient has the right to refuse any treatment or further consultation, which he/she does not wish to receive.
  2. Except in the case of a minor a third party may only be present with the consent of the patient.
  3. In the case of treatment of a minor, the mentally handicapped or those without the mental capacity to decide for themselves the presence of a parent or guardian who has requested that he/she be treated is sufficient consent, however he/she may only be treated in the absence of the parent or guardian with written consent. Specific written consent must be obtained if any of them are to undergo clinical examination alone.
  4. If requested the practitioner must make available to the patient a full list of the ingredients of any herbal medicine prescribed.
  5. If a patient is required to undress for examination or treatment, he/she must be able to do this in privacy – for example behind a screen, in a separate room, or with the practitioner absent from the consulting room.
  6. The patient has the right to have any medical language that he/she does not understand clearly explained to them.
  7. If a patient who is in hospital requests treatment the physician and hospital staff responsible for the patient’s care must be informed either by the patient; his/her parents, guardian or close family; or the practitioner themselves.

Confidentiality And Record Keeping

  1. The practitioner is personally responsible for maintaining patient confidentiality at all times. Where other people have access to the consulting room notes should be kept in a lockable filing cabinet.
  2. Where more than one practitioner works together in a group practice it must be made clear by written agreement who is responsible for the confidentiality of patient notes.
  3. If the practitioner needs to reveal patient details to a third party this must only be done with the written consent of the patient – the reason, the information to be discussed and to whom it will be divulged must all be made clear. The nature of any discussions, which subsequently take place, must be recorded in the patient’s notes.
  4. The practitioner may disclose confidential information to another medical practitioner for the purpose of gaining a second opinion, but must not in any way reveal the patient’s identity.
  5. The practitioner may disclose confidential information including patient identity to another herbalist who is acting as a locum, during the period of such employment.
  6. The practitioner may in extreme circumstances reveal confidential information to a third party where it is deemed that not to reveal this information may result in serious risk to the life or health of the patient.
  7. The practitioner must disclose confidential information if required to do so by statute, and if not to do so would constitute contempt of court.
  8. A thorough case history should be taken sufficient for any other herbalist to be able to work from, and the prescription recorded in a manner that can be understood by a professional colleague.
  9. Records must be kept for at least seven years, and if destroyed after this period should be done so in a way that guarantees confidentiality.
  10. The patient has the right to access and, if required, to copy any of his/her case notes within a reasonable period of time of the request being made.
  11. The practitioner must register with the Data Protection Act if his/her practice falls within the requirements of the Act.

Disciplinary Procedure

  1. The procedure is initiated when a complaint is made against the practitioner. The initial complaint is made to the Registrar and Ethics Officer, who will then contact the complainant to ensure that the details of the complaint are clear. At this point the practitioner will be informed of the complaint within 7 working days. Where possible and appropriate any complaint will be resolved at this level by the Registrar and Ethics Officer acting as an intermediary between both parties. If this is not possible the full Disciplinary procedure in article 6A of the constitution will be initiated. The full cost of this to be borne by the practitioner.

End. © URHP 2003