Complementing the NHS

Julie Crossman - web image black and white circle.pngIn the latest in a series of interviews with 2019 FHT Training Congress expert speakers, we speak to Julie Crossman about her background and forthcoming talk on how complementary therapists can support the NHS.


Tell us a bit of background about yourself…

I came into complementary therapy 19 years ago when my sister-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumour and found great benefit from complementary therapies. I knew from the outset that I wanted to work in oncology.

Previously, I was the sales and marketing manager at Ulster Television. I left there after the birth of our first child and opened a couple of tableware/gift shops, importing goods from Italy. After the birth of two more children, I retrained as a complementary therapist. I ran my own practice for a number of years while also working at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough in the holistic centre, oncology ward, haematology ward and day unit. I joined Harrogate Hospital five years ago, where I am the Lead therapist. I have a full-time NHS contract.


Give us an insight in to your normal day to day schedule

I get up at 6.30am and am lucky enough to be able to walk to work. I start at 8am at Harrogate Hospital. Some days I do back-to-back treatments, other days I supervise students on our NHS certificate, giving them tutorials at the beginning and end of the day, following a full clinic in various settings within the hospital, which I supervise. Within the working week, I also teach and mark students’ work for our complementary therapy school: NHS Natural Health School. We offer a number of courses, including foundation diploma level three, short courses, and CPD. These happen at weekends/weekday evenings and some weekdays. I do a lot of fundraising to help sustain and expand the complementary therapy service here at Harrogate Hospital; this involves building relationships within the community as well as organising events, which takes up time in the evenings. I also organise the local FHT support group meetings every other month and I am an ambassador for the FHT which takes me out and about to other colleges. My working week is varied but always extremely busy.


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What interests you outside of work?

Outside work, I like walking in the dales, which my husband and I try to do on Sundays. We go to ballroom dancing lessons, (not that you would know if you saw us dance!) We have three adult children who we try to see as often as we can. Our daughters play hockey so we will go to support them when we are free. We also love cooking and entertaining, so make sure we get together with family and friends as often as we can.


What is your Training Congress seminar about?

We are talking about the role of the complementary therapist within the NHS and the ever-increasing need for help in supporting an ageing population, increased complex comorbidities, and preventative help, by encouraging patients and staff to do more to help their own health and wellbeing. We will discuss the need for evidence-based practice and the issues surrounding funding. I am hoping to bring other members of the team along, to encourage a wide range of questions.



What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?

The work we do at Harrogate is all evidence-based. These positive results along with daily patient contact, enables us to see first-hand, the benefits patients, carers and staff get from complementary therapies. With an overstretched NHS and a growing population of people requiring support, there is now a real need for well-trained and experienced therapists. We are now getting referrals from GPs, and other clinicians and with social prescribing now firmly on the agenda, this talk will hopefully be of benefit for anyone interested in working, not only within the NHS, but also out in the community and in private practice, who wish to work with more complex clients.


What will attendees of your seminar expect to come away with? 

An idea of how complementary therapists can support the NHS, by working within the service as well as treating patients out in the community. We will share how we have used different therapies in a range of settings to meet patient need and talk a little about how our service developed to become an integrated sustainable service, identifying problems we faced and how we overcome them. We hope to provide a forum for questions and support for therapists wishing to work, either in a clinical environment or out in the community with more complex patients.


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Are there any other seminars in the programme which look particularly interesting to you?

There are always many interesting seminars at the training congress. For obvious reasons of links to my own work, I would find the following talks of particular interest: Dr Toh Wong—Five main reasons why therapists don’t get referrals from GP’s and the medical profession and Dr Carol Samuel—Pain in cancer survivors.


What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?

Make your practice evidence-based, think hard about what training you need and where you can find that, and network within your community of local businesses, therapists and other organisations. Get into fundraising to help provide complementary therapies.

Please feel free to ask me questions on my blog.


Learn more

Join us at the 2019 FHT Training Congress from Sunday 19 to Monday 20 May at the Holistic Health Show, NEC Birmingham.

For more details about the talks and to book, visit



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