Acupuncture to be offered widely on NHS

Alternative medicine soon to be available through your GP

Long-term low-grade back pain could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to new plans for acupuncture, osteopathy and other alternative therapies to be offered more widely on the NHS.

Advice issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) recommends that the millions of people who develop persistent non-specific low back pain receive up to nine sessions of spinal manipulation or 10 sessions of acupuncture over 12 weeks.

And according to reports in today’s Guardian the NHS will respond by spending £24.4million on acupuncture provision and a further £16million on manipulative therapy – a move that will increase access to alternative therapy for the UK’s 2.6 million back-pain sufferers.

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, welcomed the guidelines, saying: ‘This is good news for GPs and patients. Most GPs deal with patients with backache every day of the week,’ he said. ‘I welcome the endorsement of some complementary therapies for which there is a clearer evidence base.’

Approximately one in three people in the UK suffer from back pain, with 7% going on to develop serious problems. It’s estimated that 5 million working days are lost due to back pain in the UK each year.
 

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