The Department of Health in England tasked NICE to develop a service delivery guideline on supportive and palliative care in adults. This will eventually replace current NICE guidelines on improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer, and extend the population beyond adults with cancer, to cover adults with life-limiting conditions. The consultation invited healthcare providers; commissioners and other health care professionals involved in end of life care services to comment on potential amendments.
Of major concern for the Society was the suggestion within the document of the removal of complementary therapy services. Currently treatment by Homeopaths is being effectively employed in hospices, NHS settings and private clinics. Philippa Fibert, Research Consultant for the Society responded to the consultation on behalf of Society and research committee members with a comprehensive, evidenced based argument raising our grave concerns about such potential developments.
She argued that treatment by Homeopaths provides a patient centred, cost effective option in end of life and palliative care, which addresses the five priorities for care outlined by the Department of Health in their recent Inquiry. The vital reasons why homeopathy should continue to be included were stressed and included the following:
1. That the evidence base supporting CAM and homeopathy use in this area has actually grown not diminished since the publication of the 2004 guidelines.
2. That CAM services are valued by patients.
3. That homeopathic treatment effectively improves symptoms.
4. That homeopathic treatment is associated with improved quality of life.
5. That homeopathy takes a holistic approach taking into account all aspects of the patient as an individual within one therapeutic modality.
6. That homeopathy provides a cost effective option, which can address multiple complaints within a single therapeutic modality, and reduce conventional medication
The arguments expressed were well supported within the literature and backed up with evidence. For example, the response referred to the findings of the Whipps Cross University Hospital’s (Barts Health Trust ) service evaluation on integrated CAM on patient rated effectiveness. The evaluation, which included homeopathy, employed The Measure Your Concerns and Wellbeing Questionnaire. Its findings indicated that patients using homeopathy perceived 21.5% global improvements (symptoms and wellbeing) and that Treatment costs are “substantially lower than average costs of other treatments in the NHS”. (Briscoe, 2014).
We urged NICE to consider, that in light of guideline writers struggling to incorporate CAM within existing frameworks, and similarly, with CAM struggling to provide evidence suitable for incorporation into NICE guidelines, that in the long term a separate CAM framework should be devised to assess provision within the NHS for these safe, cost- effective options.
Why not get involved?
NICE are always looking for lay and professional members. Why don't you consider getting involved and influencing policy? http://www.nice.org.uk/get-involved/join-a-committee
Briscoe, J; Browne, N. (2014). Evaluating an NHS complementary therapies service. BMJ supportive & palliative care Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Pages: 106