The Charity Commission for England and Wales is currently reviewing its approach to deciding whether an organisation that uses or promotes complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is eligible to have charitable status.
As such, it opened a public consultation to seek views on: the level and nature of evidence to support CAM; conflicting and inconsistent evidence; alternative therapies and the risk of harm; and palliative alternative therapy.
As a key stakeholder, the FHT responded to the consultation and was also invited to attend a discussion chaired by the Charity Commission, where we represented the interests of our members working in the charitable sector. Amongst others, the FHT:
- Stressed the level of health and wellbeing support complementary therapists offer the public, with many patients/clients accessing complementary therapy services via registered charities
- Highlighted some of the challenges concerning evidence base for complementary therapies
- Directed the Commission to appropriate sources of research and data regarding the beneficial impact of therapies
- Stressed that complementary therapies should only be used alongside, and never as an alternative, to conventional medical care
- Highlighted the benefits of the Accredited Registers programme, which aims to protect the public.
Mary Dalgleish, FHT Vice President, attended the Commission’s stakeholder discussion and responded to the consultation on behalf of the FHT. ‘The results of our most recent survey clearly show that FHT members are playing a vital role in helping the public to live with and self-manage different health challenges,’ says Mary. ‘What is vitally important is that those seeking a complementary therapist are signposted to practitioners who are listed on an Accredited Register, independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority, so that they can choose a practitioner with confidence.
‘As charities, by their very nature, tend to provide access to support services to those populations who are most in need – and often least likely to be able afford to pay for these support services otherwise – we stressed to the Charity Commission how important it is that organisations that promote and use complementary therapies remain eligible to apply for charitable status, albeit with appropriate criteria in place, such as practitioners being listed on an Accredited Register.’
The Professional Standards Authority also responded to the consultation, along with at least 200 other interested parties.
The Charity Commission is now considering all of the information received as part of its review process, and will update the FHT and other parties of any progress or decisions ‘as soon as possible’. We will, of course, keep our members informed.