Level of NHS-funded complementary and alternative medicines increasing, says The King's Fund

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London's family doctors are steadily increasing access to complementary and alternative medicines, according to a survey commissioned by The King's Fund and the Department of Health.

Out of the 32 primary care organisations (primary care trusts and primary care groups) that responded to the survey, two thirds reported that complementary and alternative medicines services were available in their area. The most popular therapies available were acupuncture, osteopathy, homeopathy and therapeutic massage.

The survey, carried out by the University of Westminster at the end of 2001, warned that the trend towards increased complementary and alternative medicines services in NHS primary care may change, however. The next wave of primary care groups (PCGs) take on Trust status in April, and they will need to review their overall services.

The survey is part of a new King's Fund project that aims to explore what encourages good practice and clinical governance in complementary and alternative medicines. It will also aim to establish a network to support relevant and accountable complementary and alternative medicines services in the NHS.

The King's Fund primary care director, Steve Gillam, said:

'This survey provides reassuring evidence that NHS primary care organisations are continuing to support and, in many instances, widening access to complementary therapies.

'They face a huge task implementing clinical governance and this project and the new network should be a real help.'

Notes to editors

The project, which runs until the summer of 2003, will be extended to primary care organisations throughout England later this year.

The Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Medicine and the NHS Alliance have been closely involved in the project and are providing information and opportunities for networking nation-wide.

Jane Wilkinson, a researcher at the University of Westminster, will be managing the project.

For further information, a copy of the survey findings or interviews with Steve Gillam, please contact Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581 or Andrew Bell on 020 7307 2585.