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Charles backs greater therapy role in NHS

6th October 2005

Complementary therapies should be used more widely within the NHS to treat patients with a range of ailments, a new report is expected to conclude.

The report on complementary therapies, commissioned by the Prince of Wales nine months ago, will call for treatments such as acupuncture and osteopathy to be offered to patients with conditions such as stress and back pain.

The report by Christopher Smallwood, a former chief economics advisor to Barclays Bank, will claim that complementary services are in short supply in poor areas of the UK, but will suggest that evidence to support the benefits of some less established therapies, such as homeopathy, is still questionable.

The review of contemporary research and knowledge about complementary therapies will include opinions from health professionals and outline case studies. It is expected to advise that increasing access to complementary therapies in the NHS will create long-term savings.

Speaking at a meeting of the Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) earlier this year, the Prince of Wales said: "Scientific, psychological, nutritional, environmental and spiritual insights must surely be fully employed to restore and maintain health… An integrated approach has a wider meaning I think, with a focus on health and healing rather than disease and treatment – one that seeks to encompass mind, body and spirit as the proper concern of ‘good’ whole person healthcare."

Millions of people in Britain now visit complementary health practitioners and an estimated half of all GPs provide access to treatments.