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"The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is the institution that decides which treatments will be paid for by the UK NHS and which will not. The decisions are usually based on systematic reviews of the literature…The latest NICE report, entitled Multiple Sclerosis (MS)…in the section on CAM we find the following remark: "A person with MS who wishes to consider or try an alternative therapy should be recommended to evaluate any alternative therapy themselves, including the risks and the costs (financial and inconvenience)". Does this mean that when our knowledge is incomplete in conventional medicine, institutions bear the responsibility for completing it, while in CAM it is up to the individual patient to do so?" Edzard Ernst, Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies [FACT] June 2004
Is Prince Charles attempting to influence NHS policy on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)? This link provides background information to the questionable Smallwood Report on CAM which is scheduled to be released in October 2005.
NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) is the institution that decides which treatments will be paid for by the UK NHS and which will not. No form of CAM has ever been referred to NICE. Anyone is free to suggest a topic to NICE using the online form contained in this link.
Full text of a letter which appeared in the Times on 30th January 2009 pointing out to the Department of Health how it can't hope to regulate alternative treatments in any sensible way while continuing to push under the carpet the crucial question of which ones work and which don't. (DC Science)
Critics say statutory rules would give the subjects unwarranted legitimacy. Article by Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education (5th August 2009)
"This report would, if implemented, create lots more nonsense exam papers funded by a lot more public money — and would produce practitioners without the absolutely crucial skill of how to assess evidence and reject or use it appropriately. As a GP, this makes me very concerned — after all, if someone has a degree, and is 'regulated' by the government, surely you'd think the 'treatment' on offer works? Sadly, and worryingly, no." Article by Margaret McCartney, MD, Financial Times (5th August 2009)
Article by David Colquhoun, Research Professor, DC Science (16th July 2009)
"The 'managerial mentality' in universities is distorting real science and promoting 'pseudoscience', according to a leading academic who campaigns against the teaching of complementary and alternative medicine in higher education. Giving the annual Paton Lecture at the British Pharmacological Society's summer meeting in Edinburgh this week, David Colquhoun said that government, universities and health bodies have succumbed to 'magic medicine'." Article by Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education (12th July 2009)
HM Government seems to be saying that the CNHC protects the public by not protecting the public, and by setting standards — very low standards. (12th June 2009)
"The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent UK organization that provides advice on which treatments and medical practices are likely to promote health. In other words, they comment on what they think is or should be the standard of care. This is a very important function, and the NICE is generally taken seriously. That is why it was very disturbing to find that in their latest guidelines for low back pain they include recommendations for both spinal manipulation (wihout explicity naming chiropractic) and acupuncture." Article by Steven Novella, NeuroLogica blog (29th May 2009)
"…it will become possible for aupuncturists and chiropractors to claim that they now have official government endorsement from a prestigious evidence-based organisation like NICE for "subluxations" or "Qi". Of course this isn't true. In fact the words "subluxations" or "Qi" are not even mentioned in the draft report. That is the root of the problem. They should have been. But omitting stuff like that is how the Bait and Switch trick works…How did this failure of NICE happen? It seems to have been a combination of political correctness, failure to consider secondary consequences, and excessive influence of the people who stand to make money from the acceptance of alternative medicine." Article by David Colquhoun, Research Professor, DC Science (25th May 2009)
Three British universities (Salford, Westminster and Central Lancaster) have stopped or suspended degree programs in "complementary and alternative medicine". One said that the courses were not a good academic fit and the others attributed the their decision to low enrolment. All three universities will continue to offer some 'CAM' courses in other programmes. Article by Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education (9th April 2009)
Complementary therapies can improve quality of life but there is little evidence they reduce NHS costs, new research concludes…Dr Lesley Wye, lead author and research fellow in primary health at the University of Bristol, said: 'The health status data seems to suggest that people using these services are feeling better, that they notice some sort of a difference. But in terms of NHS cost it was all over the place. Some of them showed the cost went up, some went down and some it stayed the same,' she said. The study was published this month in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal. Report by Nigel Praities, Pulse (30th March 2009) [See the link immediately below.]
Lesley Wye, Deborah Sharp and Alison Shaw, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (6th March 2009) [pdf]
"What strikes me most with the NHS Alliance's promotion of alternative medicine is the absence of the term 'evidence'. The GMC demands of its members: 'You must provide effective treatments based on the best available evidence.' This raises the question of whether the NHS Alliance is not in conflict with the accepted ethical standards of the UK medical profession." Professor Edzard Ernst, Pulse (24th February 2009)
"Every year Britons spend around £4.5 billion on treatments ranging from aromatherapy to yogic healing, with one in five visiting one of 150,000 alternative therapists. This huge business came under official regulation for the first time on January 19th , when the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC to its friends, Ofquack to critics), partly financed by the Department of Health and inspired by Prince Charles's Foundation for Integrated Health, opened its doors…..Unlike the bodies that oversee doctors and nurses, the CNHC takes no interest in whether its practitioners' efforts actually work…..In the Journal of the Scottish Law Society, Douglas MacLaughlin, a Glaswegian lawyer, points out that consumer-protection laws new in 2008 specifically forbid false claims that a product can cure a disease. This could make life difficult for purveyors of alternative medicine, much of which does not work or has never been tested. That one part of government licenses alternative medicine while another bans its main sales pitch reflects a wider chaos." The Economist (22nd January 2009)
"This is the first time that a University has decided to stop teaching quackery altogether…..All we need now is for the Department of Health, the MHRA and the endless box-ticking quangos to wake up too." Article by Professor David Colquhoun, DC Science (22nd January 2009)