Incorporating complementary therapies in the NHS

Theme Allied Health Professions

Professor David Peters pioneered the use of complementary medicine in the NHS and his current research continues that legacy.

Acupuncture therapy.

For over 25 years, Professor David Peters has pioneered the use of complementary therapies in the NHS. Health centres countrywide have employed the collaborative model he developed with the team at Marylebone Health Centre (MHC) in the 80s and 90s. The growth of interest in the use of complementary therapies, notably osteopathy and acupuncture, for NHS musculoskeletal services is in part the legacy of his work.

The model pioneered at Marylebone Health Centre had national impact when management of funds transferred to GPs in 1991. Subsequently, when Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) took over responsibility in the late 90s, NHS access to acupuncture and osteopathy became available PCT-wide in as many as 60 per cent of PCTs in some regions of England.

The Marylebone model has been used by the House of Lords Science and Technology subcommittee as a key case study. In 2001, the Royal College of General Practitioners included osteopathy in their guidelines and the increasing popularity of complementary therapies led the Department of Health and the Kings Fund to support Peters’ team to produce  clinical governance guidelines for complementary therapies in the NHS.

Peters co-authored and edited the pivotal workbook Integrating Complementary Therapies in Primary Care.  Published in 2002, it earned praise even from those with reservations about complementary therapies in mainstream healthcare. In the light of his leadership in complementary therapies service development, Peters has been invited to speak at many high profile events, including giving evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee.

As GPs we had a problem coping with patient demand for help with musculoskeletal pain – low back in particular of course. Cooperation with the University Westminster helped us solve it. Dr Susan Rankine, London Victoria GP

Who's involved

Read more about who's involved with this research:

Supported by: Kings Fund, Dept. of Health, HEIFE, Barcapel (independent charity), Kensington & Chelsea PCT

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