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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 06:58 GMT
Alternative therapy put on trial
Acupuncture
The scheme will allow greater access to acupuncture
An experiment in allowing NHS patients easier access to alternative and complementary therapies has been launched by NI Secretary Peter Hain.

The 200,000 year-long trial will run in two health practices in Londonderry and Belfast. The main focus will be on anxiety and musculoskeletal problems.

GPs in these areas will now be able to refer patients for therapies like acupuncture, homeopathy and massage.

Mr Hain said it would help those who could not afford treatments privately.

"I am certain, as a user of complementary medicine myself, that this has the potential to improve health substantially," he said.

Homeopathic medicines
Homeopathic medicines will be available for some NHS patients
""For the first time, GPs will be able to refer patients directly to a complementary therapist if they feel their patient could benefit from the treatment, and indeed if it is the patient's wish.

"It will bring together both the mainstream and complementary sectors in what I hope will be the start of a process which will lead to full roll-out across the province."

Mr Hain said he was "delighted that Northern Ireland is leading the way in integrating complementary and alternative therapies into the National Health Service".

The pilot will be available to patients registered with participating GPs attached to the Community Treatment and Care Centre, Hollywood Arches, east Belfast and Racecourse Medical at Shantallow Health Centre in Derry.

The pilot, announced last October by Health Minister Paul Goggins, will be run by Get Well UK, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes greater access to complementary and alternative medicine.


SEE ALSO
Alternative therapy funding boost
05 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Acupuncture 'deactivates brain'
21 Jan 06 |  Health

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