Some good evidence on complementary therapies but more research needed, says The King's Fund

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Responding to media reports today on the effectiveness of complementary therapies, The King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said:

'We welcome the debate over the use of complementary therapies in the NHS as almost half of the UK's general practices already provide some form of access to complementary therapies.

'Obviously it makes sense to spend public money on healthcare only where there is good enough evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of therapies. While more research is needed, some complementary therapies already do have a good evidence base – for example the use of acupuncture for post-operative pain and chemotherapy-related nausea, manipulation therapies for lower back pain and herbal medicines for the treatment of depression.

'We have previously advocated that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence should consider key complementary therapies as well as conventional medicines as part of their work programme. This is especially important as patients rate these services highly and we need to ensure that as complementary medicines are integrated with conventional care, the system is well regulated to protect their interests.'

Notes to editors

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact the King's Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King's Fund will hold a 'consensus' conference (early 2007) to establish the ways in which we should research and consider how to establish a robust evidence-base upon which the NHS might base a decision to fund complementary therapies.
  3. The King's Fund is an independent charitable foundation working for better health, especially in London. We carry out research, policy analysis and development activities, working on our own, in partnerships, and through funding. We are a major resource to people working in health and social care, offering leadership development programmes; seminars and workshops; publications; information and library services; and conference and meeting facilities.