13/10/2005

Patients will benefit from greater mix of medicine - Hain

Providing more complementary medicine alongside conventional medicine within the health service in Northern Ireland would give patients the best of both worlds, Secretary of State Peter Hain said today.

Speaking to an audience of experts at the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health in London, Mr Hain, said that for many serious diseases, like cancer, only conventional therapies are powerful enough to provide the life-saving treatment that such seriously ill patients require.

“But complementary therapies, used in conjunction with conventional medicine, can both aid recovery and enhance the overall wellbeing of the patients," he continued.

“I am pleased that in Northern Ireland, complementary healthcare is actively encouraged by the NHS, with homeopathy provided in all but three Trusts and Trusts expected to provide patients with high quality information about other services that are available locally.

“As Secretary of State, I would like to see further integration of complementary and conventional medicine within the NHS in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Hain said that further studies must be carried out into the effectiveness of such treatments.

“If we are to win over the sceptics, we need more hard evidence that complementary medicine works, to back up the huge amounts of anecdotal and other evidence that it delivers a real benefit," he continued.

“But this shouldn’t be a question of conventional versus complementary treatments. It is a question of being open-minded about each tradition’s value and contribution and of working in partnership.

“Ultimately the future will be driven by the patients. And patients want real choice: the best of both worlds, combining the benefits of both complementary and conventional treatment,” Mr Hain concluded.

(MB)

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