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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Prince's alternative medicine call
Prince Charles
Prince Charles is a strong advocate of complementary medicine
Everyone should have access to complementary medicine, according to the Prince of Wales.

Prince Charles' Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Health has launched a five-year plan which outlines how to improve access to therapies.

One in five adults in the UK are estimated to have used some form of complementary medicine.

The Prince's plan was published in advance of a World Health Organization resolution, due to be considered next week, which will call for complementary therapies to be integrated into mainstream care.

Patients are clearly voting with their feet for complementary therapies
Professor Dame Lesley Rees, Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Health
The Prince of Wales is known to be a keen advocate of complementary therapies.

Writing in the introduction to the plan, 'Setting the Agenda for the Future', he said: "The key challenge in the next five years lies in getting the message of an integrated approach to healthcare into the community and in giving everybody - patient and professional alike - the means to make the kind of informed decisions that will give them access to the best possible choices."


The plan calls for everyone to have access to the treatment of their choice "safe in the knowledge that it is effective and well regulated."

But it says many therapies are not available to patients or health professionals.

And it is critical that complementary therapies are not covered by the audit and inspection processes which cover the NHS.

It calls for NHS trusts to be given guidance on how to provide complementary healthcare, community schemes to be developed to provide therapies, funding integrated healthcare, and encouraging medical schools to teach complementary medicine.

Professor Dame Lesley Rees, professor of chemical endocrinology at St Bartholomew's Hospital and the chair of trustees at the Foundation, said: "Patients are clearly voting with their feet for complementary therapies.

"But too often they do not tell their doctors what they are doing and frequently do not know where or how to obtain appropriate advice."


A spokesman for the British Medical Association said: "While recognising the growing interest in complementary and alternative therapies, it is important that patients are protected against unskilled or unscrupulous practitioners of health care.

"Standards of good practice should be set to help both referring doctors and their patients."

He added: "People want to know what works and what doesn't.

"It is sensible if the NHS is going to share treatment and management of patients with complementary and alternative therapies that there should be good information about therapies available for health care workers and patients.

"Only those therapies that are adequately regulated should be available on the NHS."

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