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The questionable influence of HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, on the integration of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into the NHS.
A close look at 'alternative' medicine
Noteworthy CAM articles and reports
"The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health has published 'Complementary Health Care: A Guide for Patients', which makes numerous misleading claims. Inaccurate claims in medicine can be dangerous, so we want this publication to be corrected or withdrawn." Professor Edzard Ernst interviewed for Media Life magazine (21st April 2008) [UPDATE December 2008: The publication appears to have been withdrawn from the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health website.]
The Prince of Wales is being challenged to withdraw two guides promoting alternative medicine, by scientists who say that they make misleading and inaccurate claims about its benefits. Report by Mark Henderson, Science Editor, The Times (17th April 2008)
"We all know I suspect of people who visit an acupuncturist, maybe adopt a regime involving changes of diet and the use of homeopathic remedies, seek out an osteopath; or find to the amazement of their rationalist selves that they benefit from herbal procedures. These "rationalist selves" would be enormously, relieved to see the effectiveness of these treatments proven through the "double-blind randomized controlled trial" — the gold-standard of medical research. However, we know that some complementary and alternative medicine disciplines (and indeed other forms of medical or surgical intervention) do not lend themselves to this research method…Ladies and Gentlemen, believe it or not I have been advocating the development of a truly integrated health system — one rooted in appropriate regulation and supported by rigorous scientific evidence — for the best part of twenty five years." (London, 20th March 2008)
Addressing a group of GPs sympathetic to his holistic view of medicine, Prince Charles said that he did not promote complementary medicines "because of some self-indulgent pet projects, or because of some half-baked obsession with unsubstantiated quackery". He added that "I seem to have attracted a remarkable degree of controversy for something as apparently harmless as advocating a whole-person, holistic approach to health care". He is also reported as saying that complementary medicine was not about "quackery and witchery, hocus-pocus and snake oil" but about giving patients accurate information and letting them make informed choices. The Telegraph (13th October 2005) [See link immediately below]
On the day he addressed a conference of experts at the Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, Peter Hain, Secretary of State for Wales said …"if you break your leg you will need surgery, but taking mineral supplements and homeopathic remedies as well can support the healing process and enhance the effectiveness of conventional treatment." News Wales (12th October 2005)
Regarding the new guide about Complementary and Alternative Medicine which was issued by The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, Michael Fox, chief executive of the foundation, conceded the guide was not an analysis of the evidence base for complementary approaches, but hoped it was 'easy-to read and useful'. Dr Michael Dixon, Chairman of the NHS Alliance and a Trustee of The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, claimed "Last year, there was one trial suggesting aromatherapy only worked if the patient thought it worked. The conventional scientists would say therefore it doesn't work but that is the wrong conclusion. The conclusion is a complementary therapy works for those who believe in it". The Guardian (15th February 2005) [NOTE: Kim Lavely was appointed Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health in September 2005]
A 56-page patient guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine issued by The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health. It contains many claims which are not supported by reliable scientific evidence. (February 2005) [pdf]
"A foundation set up by Prince Charles was given nearly £1m by the government yesterday for the delicate task of sorting the experts from the amateurs in alternative medicine." The Guardian (23rd December 2004)
"Patients will be treated with free complementary therapies to bring alternative medicine to NHS Wales on the advice of Prince Charles." icWales (13th October 2004)
"Booklets, funded by the Department of Health and produced by Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, will be distributed to every GP surgery next month, describing a list of free therapies including osteopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and homoeopathy. Prince Charles, a long-term advocate of complementary and alternative medicines, was influential in persuading ministers of the benefits of such treatments…….The Department of Health confirmed that patients could now ask their GP to refer them, free of charge, to practitioners of any of the therapies." Telegraph Online (9th October 2004)
"Complementary therapies, like homoeopathy, get to the cause — rather than just treating the symptoms…I know from my own experience that they work….I've had a lot of discussions with Prince Charles about it and I think he's right…I'd like to see doctors prescribing homoeopathic treatment on the NHS….." Peter Hain, Leader of the Commons and Secretary of State for Wales, quoted in the Telegraph Online (9th October 2004)
Article reporting Prince Charles's endorsement of Gerson Therapy… "But there is still an enormous lack of evidence, as Prince Charles pointed out, to show what works." The Observer (27th June 2004)
Mentions that, among other therapies, clinical trials of homeopathy have shown benefit in asthma treatment. Article by Prince Charles, The Guardian (28th February 2004)
"Prince Charles' Prince of Wales' Foundation for Integrated Health has launched a five-year plan which outlines how to improve access to therapies…The plan calls for everyone to have access to the treatment of their choice "safe in the knowledge that it is effective and well regulated"". BBC News (22nd May 2003)
Article by Zoe Brennan and Nicholas Hellen, The London Times (26th August 2001)
The personal views of HRH Prince Charles on the integration of complementary and alternative medicine into the UK healthcare system. British Medical Journal (20th January 2001)
"Prince Charles said that if advantages were found, they should not be limited to those who could afford to pay for them. Instead they should be made more widely available on the NHS." BBC News (30th December 2000)