NHS to pay for homeopathy and acupuncture treatments


Monday 2nd November, 2009

A proposed personal health budget scheme will allow patients to spend NHS money on treatments such as homeopathy and acupuncture, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

Other services that will be available through the scheme include personal assistants, transport and other complementary therapies.

The details of the scheme, which have recently been released by the DoH, state that anyone ‘capable of managing a direct payment’ will receive one as part of personal health budget pilots running in 20 Primary Care Trusts.

The pilots involve thousands of GPs who allocate the money by drawing up care plans with patients. The plans are then reviewed regularly.

The document from the Department of Health states that money could be spent on services as long as they are legal and appropriate for the Government to fund.

However, the plans for personal budgets have been criticised by the General Practitioners Committee who see the proposals as distracting for already over-stretched GPs.

‘This is adding unnecessary additional bureaucracy at a time when the NHS is going to have to make savage cuts. There seems to be nothing that cannot be achieved through effective practice-based commissioning,’ said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in Edgware, Middlesex and GPC negotiator.

‘I think there seems to be some confusion in Government policy. On the one hand they have been quite clear that the NHS should use resources based on evidence-based guidance developed by NICE, but there seems to be some confusion about the degree of flexibility patients will have. For example most complementary therapies are not supported by NICE guidance.’

NHS Alliance chairperson and GP Dr Michael Dixon is a supporter of complementary medicine integration into the NHS but believes the scheme will only work if patients can keep within their budget.

‘Patients with budgets will be allowed to go outside NICE guidelines, but need to pay for reasonable things provided they are within budget,’ he said.

‘One major issue will be to see if they are good at keeping to budget and possibly save money in a cold financial climate. If they are not they will wither on the vine.’

Payments could be used for services such as physiotherapy for chronic pain, acupuncture, homeopathy, personal care assistants, transportation to treatment sessions, respite care or air conditioners for people with respiratory conditions.



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2 Responses to “NHS to pay for homeopathy and acupuncture treatments”

  1. Carol Firman Says:

    My GP has been trying to refer me to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital which is an NHS hospital within the UCLH group. The Surrey PCT have refused to fund it on the basis that it is a complementary therapy. However, I was treated in a Health Clinic which was NHS funded 18 years ago, for the same problem. It worked then and I know it would work again. All my GP can offer me is another anti-depressant to try and control my anxiety, plus cognitive behavioural therapy/counselling. I have been down that route before and at the time you are having the CBT it helps a little, but I think that this therapy mainly consists of listening for a while and then patting the patient on the back and sending them off with so many sheets of information to treat yourself that you begin to get confused. I do not want to take another anti-depressant as I feel that I am swallowing a suicide pill and they can cause physical symptoms that I am not prepared to put up with. My anxiety causes me all sorts of physical symptoms and my quality of life is nil, I can’t do or enjoy anything and my family is fed up with me. I know that homeopathy is something I can believe in and yet I am not allowed to have this on the NHS, even though the Dept of Health stated that these therapies were going to be allowed I do not want to take another chemical which could cause more side effects and is a lottery situation which might or not work. What can I do???

  2. Derek Says:

    Hi Carol,

    I understand your frustration as I’m in a similar position. My primary care trust doesn’t offer any complementary therapies so I’m forced to go private. There just isn’t enough money in the NHS pot to help everyone who wants to go a different route with their treatment.

    Have you tried a consultation with a local Homeopath? They’re usually free and it will give you more idea of whether the therapy can help with your problem and if you can afford a few treatments.

    Good luck

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