Headlines: October 24th, 1997

The NHS could save money by embracing alternative and complementary medicine. This is the conclusion of a Kings Fund report. The Prince of Wales, a champion of alternative medicine, encouraged the setting up of the study, which describes the benefits of using these other forms of medicine in the NHS and of teaching them in medical schools.Prince Charles, speaking at the launch of the report Integrated Healthcare: A Way Forward for the Next Five Years? explained his initiative on integrated healthcare and outlined the contribution that complementary and alternative medicine could make to more patient-centred healthcare. He set this against a background where more and more people are turning to homeopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, osteopathy, and other therapies. He believed that this use of other forms of medicine in a reaction to an increasingly impersonal approach to healthcare and to the development of ever more powerful drugs.

Speaking of the growing acceptance of non mainstream medicine he said: “There is a feeling, not only among patients, but also among GPs, nurses and other health practitioners, that there needs to be a greater integration and inter-professional collaboration in patient care and that we can each, as individuals play a greater role in contributing towards our own health and well-being.”

Prince Charles said that the cost of modern medicine was continuing to rise and that this was an area where complementary medicine could play an important role. “Often it seems that complementary medicine can bring a different perspective and fulfil a real human need for a more personal touch. The goal we must work towards is a more integrated healthcare system, in which all the knowledge experience and wisdom is effectively developed to prevent or alleviate human suffering.”

The report has been produced with the collaboration of the royal medical collages, researchers, medical schools, patient and consumer groups, and bodies representing alternative medicine.