A PLANNED ban on unqualified practitioners of Chinese medicine will not come into force until next year, the Director of Health, Chan Fung Fu-chun, said. She said the Government had to wait until December 30 - the deadline for applications for the compulsory new licences to practise Chinese medicine - before a date could be set for the ban to take effect. A transitional period would be available for those taking the licensing examination, Dr Chan said. She dismissed fears that those without relevant qualifications could deceive patients into thinking they were qualified practitioners. Dr Chan said practitioners could be exempted from the licensing examination if they had acceptable professional qualifications, but all others had to undergo assessment - including by oral tests - by 'foreign experts in Chinese medicine'. The Chinese Medical Council will be collecting licence registration applications from August 16.