They are few and far between, and many of them are in the west country but some GP practices have adopted a progressive approach to healthcare offering natural therapies to patients. In most cases the patients have to pay a small fee, which could be as little as £10.
Patients have the benefit of referral to any of the 20 complementary therapists in addition to normal general practice. They pay a small amount to have healing, massage, acupuncture, herbal medicine, or homeopathy. Dr Michael Dixon at the College Surgery favours ‘a GP practice that offers a wider choice of safe and effective therapies, while ensuring that patients do not turn their back on proven conventional medicine’.
Cancer patients can have aromatherapy, shiatsu, homeopathy, herbal medicine, cranial sacral therapy, art therapy, massage, reflexology, yoga, relaxation and visualisation sessional practices at the Fountain Centre on site. Many hospitals around the country have a similar facility.
The Gateway Clinic is the only Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic in the NHS offering acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Qi Gong classes and dietary and lifestyle advice. Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer relief from depression, stress and anxiety. The clinic also provides a service for mental health treatment. Professional Phone: 0207 411 6151 Email: email@example.com
Difficult foot conditions, such as athlete’s foot, corns, veruccae, fungal infections, gout and bunions are treated in the Podiatry Clinic by Dr Tariq Khan with preparations of marigold. Dr Khan’s father spent 30 years researching the 57 species of marigold, and has had particular success with reducing bunions using a poultice of marigold.
Based in central London the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine comes under the University College London Hospitals NHS Trust but takes referrals from all over the country.
The British Homeopathic Association supplies a free booklet entitled How to Get Homeopathic Treatment on the NHS, and a list of medically qualified practitioners: 0207 566 7800: www.trusthomeopathy.org
‘We are able to offer patients choice and a range of safe therapies without side-effects and which benefit patients considerably. We reduce prescription costs because less medication is needed, and patients on low incomes have benefited as well.’
Currently patients make a small contribution towards treatments at Glastonbury, but a new pilot project is providing both acupuncture and osteopathy on the NHS.
Glastonbury is a very alternative town but Dr Welford emphasises, ‘While many of the patients are very knowledgeable about complementary therapies, we also cover an area where many of the people are very conventional. Complementary therapies are becoming more accepted and mainstream now.’
Chronic Pain Service, Burnley General Hospital
Pain can make life a misery for those who have to endure it, and 50 to 60 per cent of the people who visit the Chronic Pain Service in Burnley have back pain. People referred to the service have their pain management programme devised for them, and they are given advice on diet, sleep and exercise.
Dr Magdy Aglan, consultant pain physician, explains, ‘We have a holistic approach to patients’ health and don’t just focus on the back or wherever the problem lies.’ After the initial diagnosis, patients may be offered conventional treatment such as medication or referred within the clinic to one of the therapists for psychological assessment, acupuncture, aromatherapy massage, osteopathy, reflexology or the TENS electrotherapy machine.
‘Most of the therapies have a relaxing and acupuncture can reduce pain with minimal side-effects. People used to stay with us for the rest of their lives, but now they are discharged after three to four months. The aim is to make their pain bearable so that they can get on with their lives.’
The practice also offers complementary therapies such as osteopathy, massage therapy, homeopathy, acupuncture and naturopathy through GP referral. Please ask the practice for more information, also about in practice counselling service. Please let us know if you are unable to keep your appointment as this may be given to someone else.
Call the British Acupuncture Council for details of members: 020 8735 0400 or www.acupuncture.org.uk