National Health Service Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 22nd November 2016.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Conservative, Bosworth 6:10 pm, 22nd November 2016

Speaking for myself, I was impressed by the pace of the hon. Lady’s speech.

In this short contribution, I want to address the supply of practitioners, not just the supply of money. I suggest to my hon. Friend the Minister that since we have regulated many more practitioners, many more practitioners should be available on the health service. The Professional Standards Authority chief Harry Cayton has called for a much greater use of those on his register. He says:

“We all know we need to deliver new, innovative ways to improve people’s health…That means looking beyond the traditional confines of our health and care system and the traditional health professions.”

The 23 organisations on his register—including the Federation of Holistic Therapists, the Society of Homeopaths and the British Acupuncture Council—regulate 20,000 practitioners.

The treatment of lower back pain needs much greater consideration. Since the regulation of chiropractors and osteopaths in Bills that I was involved with 20 years ago, there has been far too little communication with orthopaedic surgeons. There is an organisation called ARMA—the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance—but I ask my hon. Friend to look at the matter and see how much more effective integration can be. NICE now recommends acupuncture for lower back pain, as I hope it will continue to do, and that should be brought in.

On Brexit, we have the European legislation to consider. Three directives need close scrutiny when we take them over. The traditional herbal medicines directive has struck out proven Chinese medicines and other herbal medicines, the food supplements directive is very restrictive and tougher regulation will be needed when we get our hands on the food additives directive.

The chief medical officer wrote a report in the last Parliament on antimicrobial resistance. One of the most effective ways of stopping antibiotic use is to use homeopathic medicine, which has a proven record in upper respiratory tract infection treatment. We also need to go back to the ’90s to look at the GP fundholding system that was available in John Major’s Government, whereby doctors could commission complementary and alternative medicine practitioners. A clinic known as “The Crypt” in Marylebone saved £500,000 in one year using homeopathic treatments. When that was struck out by the new Labour Government, the clinic overspent its drug budget by £1.5 million.

There have been a lot of attacks in the past few years on homeopathy, which is an honourable and well-served practice of medicine with its own doctors, regulated in this country and used in 41 of 42 European countries. Some of those attacks have been from an organisation called the Good Thinking Society, which really consists of one man and a dog. It spends £100,000 a year, £20,000 of which comes from the taxpayer through its charitable status; I think that that is an absolute scandal. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister not to listen to the siren voices of that small, badly represented group. We need to use the discipline of homeopathy. We must not allow lawyers sending letters to clinical commissioning groups and others to derail the availability in the health service of that very well-established and popular system of medicine.