A hallmark of the UK NuLabour government is the sham public "consultation". Over recent months, Universities have been "consulted" on new procedures for self investigation (and effective cover-up) of research fraud (see consultation). The General Medical Council is "consulting" about their (already reasonable) guidance for doctors who fake research - while they fail to deal with actual doctors who have brought shame on the clinical research enterprise. The GMC is also "consulting" on how it could "improve its procedures for handling Fitness to Practice cases".
Much of what passes for "consultation" is theater designed to create an illusion that serious problems with these organisations are being addressed. I have yet to see actual examples of regulatory integrity lapses, cover-up and cock-up included within any consultation document.
Funniest of all is the current consultation on government regulation of "Practitioners of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK". David Colquhoun is lucid on the problem of what we are regulating. He discusses in some detail examination papers and teaching material from degree courses on acupuncture and Chinese medicine at the University of Salford and the University of Westminster.
I am hardly a defender of the current state of medicine. Scientific medicine, medical leadership, and genuine evidence-based medicine are in a shambles right now. This is in part because of government interference, and because regulators have assisted in the "normalisation" of scientific fraud. It seems to me that there are a few things to address before "consulting" on the mechanics of regulation for these practitioners. Yet again, the clear message from government is that honest science and evidence are not on their agenda. Regulation and yet more guidance are not the solution to our problems - they are the problem.
I differ slightly from David in that I don't care that ill folk choose to get all sorts of advice. Nor do I care that such wares are sold, so long as they describe exactly what they do (see this company), and I don't foot the bill.
In any event, why regulate only these specific practitioners and techniques? Given my African origins I responded to the consultation with the helpful suggestion that we consider the regulatory normalisation of other therapeutic techniques such as scarification or FGM, drugs such as muti (human or otherwise), and diagnostic technologies such as bone throwing.