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The BBC's Jane Warr
"A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they welcomed the Princes views"
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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 09:45 GMT
Prince calls for alternative research
homeopathic treatments
Prince Charles wants more research into homeopathic treatments
The Prince of Wales has called for a national programme of research into complementary and alternative medicine.

Writing in The Times newspaper, Prince Charles said that if treatments can be shown to work, they should be available on the national health service.

"A potentially powerful resource is at our fingertips, but its benefits will be limited and often those who can least afford to pay for complementary medicine are the ones who would most benefit, unless somewhere, somehow, purses are opened and funds dedicated to its systematic study," he wrote.

Alternative Health
The Prince offered the services of his own Foundation for Integrated Medicine to implement a national strategy for research into alternative treatments.

His comments prompted criticism from a leading medical figure, who argued there was little proof of the effectiveness of homeopathy.

"I think he is completely wrong. Prince Charles asserts things in the face of a complete lack of evidence," Patrick Bateson, Professor of Ethology at King's College, Cambridge, told The Times.

'Pitiful spending'

Currently, the NHS spends a minute amount on research into complementary medicine, allocating only eight pence out of every 100.

Since an estimated 1.6bn is spent each year on them, we want value for our money

Prince Charles
In his article, Prince Charles described the current funding for such treatments as pitiful.

He argued the rise in the popularity of non-conventional medicine justified an increase in the money spent on research.

"It makes good sense to evaluate complementary and alternative therapies. For one thing, since an estimated 1.6bn is spent each year on them, then we want value for our money," wrote the prince.

"The very popularity of the non-conventional approaches suggests that people are either dissatisfied with their orthodox treatment, or they find genuine relief in such therapies."

Prince Charles said that if advantages were found, they should not be limited to those who could afford to pay for them. Instead they should be made more widely available on the NHS.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they welcomed the prince's views and said there was a role for complementary and alternative medicine within NHS

She said the NHS already provided these treatments but their use was left to the discretion of individual GPs and health authorities.

The prince has had herbal treatments and aromatherapy, while his back problems have been treated with osteopathy.

There are now 40,000 alternative practitioners compared with 36,000 GPs. The Foundation for Integrated Medicine receives around 500,000 annually from the prince.

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