Integrated Health Care
Anne Milton (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health; Guildford, Conservative)
I think that I am quite right about that, because that sort of thing is, in general, a career-limiting move. I think that what my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth is saying, what his concern is and why he feels that the picture is rather bleak is that he has encountered minds that are closed to alternative therapies. That will not be solved by the Government issuing directives, because a number of issues need to be considered, one of which is the training of doctors and those in other professions allied to health care. Our move towards GPs having more power and control, and towards their having the ability to commission services, will, in itself, loosen the ties on how they think about where the best treatment will be found.
I am sure that my hon. Friend will be pleased that acupuncture is used widely in pain clinics and even in some maternity services, and that the Department of Health continues to fund research into new treatments, through the National Institute for Health Research, and to award funding for studies into the efficacy and value of complementary and alternative medicines. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has already published guidance that refers to complementary therapies-for example, those relating to lower back pain, multiple sclerosis, antenatal and palliative care. Our approach to all treatments, be they complementary, alternative or mainstream, is the same. Treatments must be supported by robust evidence, and they must meet safety, quality, clinical and cost-effectiveness criteria. If they are then called for by clinicians on the ground, they should be, can be and will be used in the NHS.
Question put and agreed to.