MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

An article alerted me to a new report on alternative medicine in the NHS. The report itself is so monumentally important that I cannot find it anywhere (if someone finds a link, please let us know). Behind it is our homeopathy-loving friend David Tredinnick MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group. I am sure you remember him; he is ‘perhaps the worst example of scientific illiteracy in government’. And what has David been up to now?

His new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare is urging the NHS to embrace more medicine to ease the mounting burden on service provision. It claims that more patients suffer from two or more long-term health conditions than ever before, and that their number will amount to 18 million by 2025.

And the solution?

Isn’t it obvious?

David Tredinnick MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, insists that the current approach being taken by the government is unsustainable for the long-term future of the country. “Despite positive signs that ministers are proving open to change, words must translate into reality. For some time our treasured NHS has faced threats to its financial sustainability and to common trust in the system. Multimorbidity is more apparent now in the UK than at any time in our recent history. As a trend it threatens to swamp a struggling NHS, but the good news is that many self-limiting conditions can be treated at home with the most minimal of expert intervention. Other European governments facing similar challenges have considered the benefits of exploring complementary, traditional and natural medicines. If we are to hand on our most invaluable institution to future generations, so should we.”

Hold on, this sounds familiar!

Wasn’t there something like it before?

Yes, of course, the ‘Smallwood Report‘, commissioned over a decade ago by Prince Charles. It also proclaimed that the NHS could save plenty of money, if it employed more bogus therapies. But it was so full of errors and wrong conclusions that its impact on the NHS was close to zero. At the time, I concluded that the ‘Smallwood report’ is one of the strangest examples of an attempt to review CAM that I have ever seen. One gets the impression that its conclusions were written before the authors had searched for evidence that might match them. Both Mr Smallwood and the ‘Freshminds’ team told me that they understand neither health care nor CAM. Mr Smallwood stressed that this is positive as it prevents him from being ‘accused of bias’. My response was that ‘severely flawed research methodology almost inevitably leads to bias’.

And which other European countries might the Tory Brexiter David refer to?

Not Spain?

Not France?

Not Austria?

Not Germany?

Sadly, I have not seen Tredinnick’s  new oeuvre and do not know its precise content. What I do know, however, that the evidence, for alternative medicine’s cost effectiveness has not improved; if anything, it has become more negative. From that, one can safely conclude that Tredinnick’s notions of NHS-savings through more use of alternative medicine are erroneous. Therefore, I suspect the new report will swiftly and deservedly go the same way as its predecessor, the ‘Smallwood Report’: straight into the bins of Westminster.

13 Responses to Chronic illnesses will cripple the NHS – unless the NHS adopts more alternative medicine

  • The article was published (on the web) by ‘Practice Business’.
    As the Editor of this blog is not identified, and under its menu, ‘About’ tells us nothing whatsoever about about it – the entire edifice may be false and a scam.
    How are we to know?
    Perhaps Tredinnick runs the blog himself, and this is an example of his delusional self-aggrandisement.

    Certainly, if PB is prepared to publish a totally uncritical (and therefore, bad quality journalism) such as DT’s puff piece without referencing DTs actual ‘report’ – how many other PB pieces can anyone trust?

    Fortunately, no one (with common sense) will take the slightest bit of notice.

    • not quite true; you and I just took the ‘slightest bit of notice’.

      • You pedant!
        Should have said “not the slightest bit of serious notice”!

        Here’s some more pedantry:
        Tredinnick’s report was from ‘The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Health Care’ (APPGIHC) – as registered by the House of Commons, 30 March 2105. Purpose: “To facilitate among politicians the exchange of information on integrated healthcare; to stimulate well-informed debate; and to contribute towards the development of knowledge and policies on the subject.”

        No funding declared, no benefits. Last AGM 2014. It is an “All-Party Parliamentary Subject Group.”

        That’s all folks!

        DT’s group is different from ‘The All-Party Parliamentary Health Group’ (APHG) – registered 10 October 2018. Purpose: “The APPG is dedicated to disseminating knowledge, generating debate and facilitating engagement with health issues amongst Members of both Houses of Parliament.”

        In 2018, its secretariat was funded by ‘Policy Connect’ at £93,000.

        All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in their web pages are those of the group.

        And there is also Parliament’s principal committee – a ‘Select Committee’: “The Health and Social Care Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and Social Care and its associated bodies.”
        A totally different animal.

        DT’s is a vanity project. By “Integrated Health Care” he means the integration (in the NHS) of conventional modalities with SCAMS. Pace ‘The College of Medicine and Integrated Health’ and RHH The Prince of Wales.

    • “Fortunately, no one (with common sense) will take the slightest bit of notice.”

      This touches on a subject I’ve long worried about.

      Those with common sense know that, at best, many CAMs are unproven and, at worst, harmful. We—that is, those of us with common sense—know to look to the evidence.

      But what about those who seem to have no common sense? How do we get through to them? How do we convince the chiropractors, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists and other woo woo practitioners to stop spreading this nonsense? Clearly, simply presenting the evidence to them doesn’t work. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the business in the first place.

      I can’t believe they are ALL in it for the money (although many have come to believe in their own BS because it can pay well). And they are not stupid (one assumes).

      Also, banning it doesn’t work. Many instances of false advertising and outright lies can be found without much effort—there is little, if any, enforcement.

      Some people will say the sky is green, no matter what the evidence. I get that. But one would think this must be a small percentage of people. What about the rest?

      Many, many people are hurt by these so-called therapies and treatments. What the answer? Or, is there one?

  • A modest proposal: once the use of SCAM has been rolled out across the NHS it will be possible to take the next step, and argue that even more money can be saved by not treating illness at all, and with no loss of efficacy. In this way savings equivalent to the entire NHS budget could be achieved.

    • I have often tried to counter the argument that alt med is cheaper than conventional medicine, by pointing out that not treating patients at all is even cheaper. this is also a good point when discussing cost versus cost-effectiveness. but sadly the believers often seem too blinkered to get the point.

  • What worries me is that even though it won’t save NHS money – there will be loads who having a chronic condition like me will seek out these therapies privately in desperation because the report gives them a sort of legitimacy. And the more people who use these therapies ( even when they don’t work ) – the more these charlatans will claim their validity ( because they dont report the failures ). How did it even get comissioned and who paid for it ?

  • Well, it isn’t going to happen in secondary care in England because of the way it is commissioned. It’s also worth pointing that the Department of Health and Social Care has long made noises that it’s not going to interfere in how NHS England, CCGs etc prioritise spending (Cancer Fund was the last obvious example). It’s not Ministers that need to be convinced, it’s both NHS England, CCGs and because of their role NICE too.

    The more cynical will say that this is so that the shit generated by hospital closures etc doesn’t stick to Government.

    Of course, NHS Scotland is different…

    There is more to this that meets the eye though.

  • By way of contrast, see Chapter 7 on multimorbidity in the CMO’s 2018 report for a scientifically rigourous approach to the challenge:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/767549/Annual_report_of_the_Chief_Medical_Officer_2018_-_health_2040_-_better_health_within_reach.pdf

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