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How important is the role of complementary therapies and medicines within a modern health service?

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Introduction

How important is the role of complementary therapies and medicines within a modern health service? Illustrate your answer with examples and, where possible, consider the impact that the growth of such remedies has had on attitudes within both the general public and the medical profession. Over the last decade peoples opinions towards medicine have changed, this has made a lot of people consider alternative treatment for illnesses, which before hand they would have been seen as witch craft. Nowadays it is more socially acceptable and is used more widely to treat illnesses or used just as a relaxation method. When investigating any form of medical treatment, whether that be CAM or scientific medicine we need to be asking questions; Is it effective? Is it safe? How is it regulated? People still make assumptions about complementary therapies, that it is outside the NHS so there is no regulating body to protect the clients or the practitioners, this is true for many areas but with continuing research and the need for more funding I believe that it will gain the recognition that it deserves, and this will open the door for more regulatory bodies to become mandatory. When people say that it is outside "conventional" medical training, this can be true but many practitioners of complementary therapy train for many years degree level, and there are 20 universities which offer degrees in Complementary Medicine, ...read more.

Middle

Herbal Medicine is the oldest method of medicine and is used all over the world with sales topping £126 million every year from over the counter therapies. The most common illnesses which it treats are migraines, arthritis, depression, insomnia and lung, stomach, blood and skin disorders. Massage Therapy, is the manipulation of soft tissue for therapeutic purposes, and is commonly used along side cancer therapy and is also popular amongst athletes. In 1995, Kate J Thomas, J P Nicholl and Margaret Fall, conducted a survey of how many GP's were referring their patients to CAM. They sent out their questionnaires via the post to 1226 individual GP's in a random cluster sample or GP partnerships in England, this was 1 in 8 GP partnerships in England in 1995. The method set by them was to assess estimates of the number of practices offering 'in-house' access to any form of complementary therapies or if this was not available were they making referrals outside the practice, and if there was any funding available for CAM. The total number of returned questionnaires was 964 (78.6%). Out of those, 760 also gave detailed information. The results showed that an estimated 39.5% of GP partnerships offered some form of access to CAM for their NHS patients. An estimated 21.4% offered it via a member of the primary health care team, 6.1% had employed andindependent' CAM therapist, and an estimated 24.6% made referrals for CAM. ...read more.

Conclusion

The implications of long time chemical drug use has been publicised many of times, yet there is no evidence to suggest that the services that CAM offer would harm with long term use. So why is the funding not available for more research to be done to help gain peoples confidence in CAM? I agree that times are hard with the NHS, but really in the majority of matters with the government it always comes down to funding or rather lack of funding. If we take funding/money out of the equation then is another problem area for CAM that people have closed minds, in that they do not want to try something new? It would be interesting if the ages of the General Practitioners were available who readily refer patients on to organisations that use CAM, because as people get older they become less accustomed to change, and are the new generation of doctors more open to change, whereas the older generation of doctors are more prone to not changing from chemical drugs. I will be interested to see what happens with the introduction of more CAM services within the NHS, will time change things? We can only wait and see, but personally I would like to see more of CAM introduced in the NHS. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nicci Waterfield Health & Social Care LF 1 ...read more.

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