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News - BANT - to join or not to join?

By Alison Belsham, edited by Christine Bailey

As the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy releases its new handbook of professional practice, we take a look at why newly qualified nutritional therapists (NTs) should join and why existing members should ensure their membership is up to date. 

The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) is the professional body for NTs – and, for its members, plays an important role in their professional practice. As a professional association, it differs from the regulatory body, CNHC (see below), as it is run by its members to further their interests, both as a professional group and individually, if and when required. With its codes of professional practice, it advises NTs on professional conduct and how to maintain appropriate relationships with their clients. In turn, members are expected to uphold the codes and behave in a professional manner at all times.

Your association – working for you

So, how does becoming a member of BANT benefit the practitioner? This is summarised clearly in BANT’s mission statement: “to act as the professional body for NTs and those working in nutritional science; to promote high standards of education, training, practice and integrity in the profession; to promote the application of nutrition science; and to work towards the goal of having nutritional therapy available to all on the NHS”.

While mission statements are designed to be aspirational, on a day-to-day basis, this translates into a wealth of activities involving and working on behalf of members. Below the governing council, a tier of committees addresses areas such as membership, the members’ forum, PR, CPD and professional practice – and their activities range from producing the new codes of professional practice to organising regional co-ordinators, setting up the Nutripedia and Learning Zone websites, and manning the BANT stand at the Royal College of General Practitioners Conference and CAM Expo.

As well as encountering BANT at shows and trade fairs, members can attend BANT seminars throughout the year and the association produces three newsletters a year and updates members with periodic e-blasts. The BANT website is also an invaluable resource, with a link to the excellent Natural Medicines Database (for which BANT members have group membership), a jobs/classified section, the members forum, book and software recommendations, a CPD online log (coming soon, so members can keep track of their recommended 30 CPD hours), while the new Learning Zone website should come online in December.

BANT also speaks for nutritional therapy in the wider political arena – a particularly important function as complementary therapies are coming under intense daily scrutiny in the media. BANT representatives have even given evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s report on Genomic Medicine. The importance of having a unified voice in public life cannot be underestimated in a profession in which most members work in isolation.

Not to be forgotten is the importance of being listed on the BANT Directory of Practitioners, which BANT publicises whenever and wherever possible and which is a valuable source of client enquiries. At the same time, the PR committee works to promote the profession in the media and to educate the public on the benefits of nutritional therapy.

Maintaining professional practice: The new BANT handbook

One of BANT’s most important roles is in upholding the highest standards of integrity, competence and professionalism in order to protect both NTs and their clients. To this end, BANT’s Professional Practice Committee has just released a new Code of Professional Practice handbook on the BANT website, to supersede the previous code of ethics and practice. The purpose of the new code is to outline the quality of care of clients that is expected of members and, in relation to complaints, to set the benchmark of conduct and practice against which members are measured. Members who are found to have contravened the codes can be disciplined or even expelled from the association. Existing members are urged to familiarise themselves with the handbook as there are some new and updated topics.  

Involving its members

Finally, above all, BANT is an association that is there for its members, and for that reason it is interested in hearing where members’ interests lie. The more NTs put into BANT and the more they get involved with its activities, the more they will gain from membership and, in a profession that can sometimes feel a bit lonely, the camaraderie, support and understanding that the association offers is probably its most valuable asset. If you haven’t joined yet, I urge you to become a member now – and, if you’re already a member, take some time to become more involved. 

Who’s who?

BANT – British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy

BANT is the professional body for nutritional therapy practitioners and those working in the wider application of nutritional science and, as such, promotes the interests of NTs and the integrity of the profession. NTs can join BANT and can turn to it for professional advice and support.

CNHC – Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council

CNHC is the UK regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners and, as such, is a government body. Its key function is to enhance public protection by setting standards for practitioners that are registered with it. It is strongly recommended by BANT that practising NTs register to show the public that they meet the national standards of practice. Registrants are encouraged to use the CNHC ‘quality mark’ on their marketing material, as it becomes recognised as the hallmark for quality within the complementary sector.

NTC – Nutritional Therapy Council

Previously the regulator for Nutritional Therapists, the NTC now sets standards of training and education that meet the National Occupational Standards for Nutritional Therapy. 

BANT in the regions

Unless you’re working in a clinic setting, being an NT can be an isolating experience. For this reason, BANT has recently called out for regional co-ordinators to come forward for each of the (currently existing) Primary Care Trusts up and down the country. Their role will be to build networking relationships with fellow NTs, create professional development opportunities, expand public relations and improve GP involvement.

Visit the members’ area of the BANT website (www.bant.org.uk) to find out who your local co-ordinator is. For queries relating to your BANT membership or other BANT activities, go to the contacts page on the website, where you’ll find a list of contacts.

To help expand your business, why not register for free with www.nutripeople.co.uk under the Find a Nutritionist section. 

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