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Hospital Healthcare Europe
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Patients call for NHS complementary therapy

A year-long pilot scheme in Northern Ireland has found that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can offer significant health improvements to NHS patients.

After receiving CAM treatments on referral from their GP, 81% of patients reported an improvement in their physical health and 79% in their mental health. The majority of patients, 84%, directly linked improvements in their health and wellbeing to the CAM treatment they had received and 94% said they would recommend it to others with a similar condition.

The 713 patients, with a range of ages and demographic backgrounds and either musculoskeletal or mental health conditions, were referred to relevant CAM therapies via nine GP practices in Belfast and Londonderry. The therapies included acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy administered by local practitioners. The scheme was implemented by social enterprise Get Well UK, which aims to improve access to complementary therapy on the public health service.

Patients assessed their own health and wellbeing pre and post therapy and GPs and CAM practitioners also rated patients responses to treatment and the overall effectiveness of the scheme.

Independent analysis of the findings showed:

  • Patients receiving acupuncture treatment reported an average 33% improvement in their health and wellbeing
  • Patients receiving chiropractic and osteopathy treatment reported an average 38% improvement in their health and wellbeing
  • Patients receiving homeopathic treatment reported an average 54% improvement in their health and wellbeing

Founder of Get Well UK, Boo Armstrong, says of the results: “The results from this project speak for themselves – complementary therapies improve health and save money. These findings are consistent with other service evaluation from across the UK. A personalised health service will need protocols to include complementary therapies.”

Melanie Prince, Marketing Manager from the Federation of Holistic Therapists, commented: “We are thrilled but not surprised by the findings which confirm that complementary therapies do have a positive effect upon patient well-being. With around 20,000 members the FHT, through our members, offers many of the complementary therapies that have proven so successful in this report. We hope that this research will be used by GPs and health professionals throughout the UK to offer patients complementary therapy, as part of their NHS treatment.”