The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently reviewing its guideline on supportive and palliative care in adults. As part of this process, it produced a ‘Draft scope consultation’, in which it proposed to remove the section on complementary therapy services.
As a registered stakeholder, the FHT responded to NICE to outline why this section should NOT be removed from the scope of the updated guideline…
Amongst others, we have highlighted:
- That demand is increasing for complementary therapy in supportive and palliative care, as it provides symptom relief as well as emotional support to patients;
- That complementary therapies are also valued and used by carers and health professionals supporting those receiving palliative care;
- That complementary therapy services are often used to facilitate distressing medical procedures (such as cannulation and radiotherapy mask making), which means improved patient well-being and cost/staff efficiencies within the care system;
- That removing the complementary therapy section would mean patients and health professionals/commissioners accessing the guideline will not be able to find credible information about complementary therapies, or be signposted to the Accredited Registers programme when looking for a practitioner;
- That removing the complementary therapy section risks the withdrawal of NHS and charitable support for the provision of complementary therapy services already valued as part of an existing palliative care pathway;
- That removal of this section impacts patient choice and patient-centred care;
- That no studies have emerged that specifically evidence harm as a result of the delivery of complementary therapies in supportive and palliative care, when carried out by a professional, qualified and accountable therapist.
In addition we included quotes and statistics gathered from a short survey of our members who work in palliative care, as well as from key movers and shakers in the health and care arena.
This includes Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of NHS Alliance and the College of Medicine, who told FHT: ‘Very many of my palliative patients use complementary therapy and find it very helpful. Indeed, in some cases they find this their most helpful intervention. Patients, their carers and primary care clinicians have both the need and the right to know what is available. It would be inexcusable and a huge blow to the credibility of NICE if complementary therapies are omitted from this guidance.’
David Tredinnick MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare (PGIH), has also written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, saying that it would be inappropriate to remove the complementary therapy section from the guideline.
NICE will now review the comments it has received from FHT and other stakeholders and develop a final version of the scope. We will keep members informed of any progress. If you would like to learn more about the process followed by NICE when developing or updating its guidelines, visit www.nice.org.uk/about/what-we-do/our-programmes/nice-guidance/nice-guidelines/how-we-develop-nice-guidelines
Thank you to all those members who took part in our short survey about complementary therapies in palliative care – the information you provided supported a number of the key statements we included in our response to NICE.