The Patient Revolution Conference followed on from last years event where anyone in the audience can suggest an agenda item and lead a discussion on it. Last year I raised the issue about making GP’s making better use of acupuncturists such as myself, as I would really like to get an integrated low cost acupuncture clinic off the ground.

Some positive sounding noises have been made, but no solid progress yet, so I thought I would raise the issue again.

This time I had two bites at the cherry, one particpating in a discussion called “Educate GP’s on complementary therapies and alternatives to drugs and surgery”. This was raised by my colleague Carole Baker from The Self Centre in Bury St Eds.

We had a GP who I think is responsible for Pain Management Care Pathways join us. Part of the debate raged around the need for an evidence base for offering complementary therapies. This can be quite a tall order as not many therapies have been “properly” investigated (that is involved in randomised control trials)…but actually acupuncture has been and continues to be well researched.

Research results have been so positive that NICE (National Institute for Clinical Research) has recommended it for headache treatments and lower back pain…and hopefully soon will be following on with recommending it for knee pain too.

The point I raised was that I would at least like the opportunity to present this information to medical staff, to open their eyes to the possibilities…and from there I could start breaking down the barriers to getting an integrated clinic off the ground.

The second discussion was around “Not everyone likes or responds to medication. How can complementary therapy help the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) meet their priorities”. This was jointly raised by myself and therapist Helen Taylor.

Part of the discussion covered hospitals such as Manchester that have had Complementary Therapy Units to refer people to, and services such as the Pain Clinics in Bury and Ipswich Hospitals which utilise acupuncture. There are already working models out there so it would not be like breaking completely new ground to get more extensive acupuncture services available in Suffolk.

Ed Garrett, the CCG Chief Operating Officer sat in on our group so I directly challenged him about the issue, asking him “Was there light at the end of the tunnel for utilising complementary therapies within the NHS system?”…and his reply was very positive “Yes, complementary therapies are an untapped resource…”

So one small step forward…watch this space for the next one!

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