An NHS therapy school that works for all

NHS Natural Health School

The NHS Natural Health School is the first NHS-approved and owned complementary school, developed and run by NHS employees. Located in Harrogate District Hospital – part of Harrogate and District Foundation Trust – it was officially launched in May 2018 after four years of hard work by its dedicated team.

The school was developed to create a self-sustaining model of care for cancer patients, delivered by therapists trained to the highest standards of care expected of any health professional working within the NHS.

Gwyn Featonby, one of the school’s founders, said its mission is to provide complementary therapy diplomas and CPD courses that uniquely include practical placements and clinical supervision within the NHS. This allows therapists to gain experience treating patients with complex healthcare needs that they may have been unable to treat in their initial training.

Courses include foundation-level training in a range of complementary therapies, CPD and advanced courses in many areas of complex patient management and courses delivered in collaboration with other training providers. One of its most innovative developments has been the NHS certificate programme for complementary therapists, which involves a clinical work placement and competency-based learning programmes that meet the essential standards as directed by the Care Quality Commission, national occupational standards and agreed competencies for the specialist pathway as set by clinicians.

Gwyn has noted that the school’s courses are not only for those looking to work within the NHS, but also those who want to treat a wider range of clients. It is estimated that by 2030, around 50% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, so having evidence-based clinical training for treating such patients will be of benefit to all therapists.

The model created by the team means that for each cohort of students they have on a training pathway, 72 patients are removed from the complementary therapy service waiting list. Patients are referred for treatment by a health professional at the centre, many of whom have experienced the treatments first-hand or have simply seen how different therapies have helped their patients – from helping to resolve sleep issues to pain management. Such issues may have previously required referral to a specialist and cost the NHS precious time and money, highlighting the value of the service.

The team intend to continue refining the model before introducing it to other departments at the hospital and ultimately licensing it to other Trusts, benefitting patients, therapists, health professionals and the wider health service alike.

Learn more about the NHS Natural Health School, the training it provides and how the model supports patients, medical staff and the trust in Gwyn Featonby and Sarah Grant’s talk at the 2019 FHT Conference.

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