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Mr. Tredinnick: I welcome the new clause. I have been closely involved in complementary and alternative medicine in three Parliaments, as an officer of the all-party parliamentary group for alternative and complementary medicine. The new clause reflects the new-found importance of such medicine and its new-found status in this country.
There are three main reasons why we should welcome new clause 7. First, more and more people in Britain are using complementary and alternative medicine: it is no longer something for minority groups. It is now very much part of the nation's way of life and as such, it requires more attention. That is illustrated here by the fact that acupressure is now available in the House of Commons gym. There is a practitioner there, and some of us will have read in his leaflet the statement from an unnamed Member that it is the only way in which he or she can find any relief from stress. I think that I see the
Mr. Swayne: Will my hon. Friend let us know what acupressure is and precisely how the service that is provided in the gym will be augmented or enhanced by the regulation consequent upon the new clause, particularly as it seems to be so successful without the new clause?
Mr. Tredinnick: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for trying to help me along. Of course, I am just setting out, but all I say to him is that, if he had a headache, the practitioner might apply two thumbs either side of his head and produce a remarkable effect. [Interruption.] I shall give way to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) if he wants to contribute, albeit briefly, although if he does so, he may find that he is not promoted very quickly; I guess that the Government Whips will not approve.
I recommend that my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) tries that acupressure method. It is an illustration of how one can become more relaxed. I am not suggesting that he is not relaxed. In fact, I have always seen him as one of my more relaxed colleagues in the House and I always enjoy sitting next to him. Indeed, I could say, as a new ager might say leaving the Glastonbury festival, "I can feel the vibe sometimes." It is very relaxing being near my hon. Friend. However, we must not get too sidetracked. I would not want you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to call me to order so early on.
I give another illustration of how complementary and alternative medicine has been received in the House. Recently, we had an exhibition in the Upper Waiting Hall, which was well supported by colleagues. Several Members from both Houses availed themselves of the treatments that were available. Colleagues do not normally bare their feet in public in the Upper Waiting Hall without good reason. Many colleagues, including me, queued up for the reflexology that was available on that occasion. [Interruption.] They did not include my hon. Friend the Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns). I thought that he was nodding. Perhaps he hoped to have the treatment, but did not get it, or perhaps he is astonished at my suggestion.
The group provided treatment in the House. Whereas in the past, some of those treatments would have been seen as absolute quackery--if one discussed them with one's doctor, one would perhaps have been struck off the patients list--they are now the type of treatment that people expect to be available, and they have been available in the House of Commons.
The second reason why the new clause is relevant to the Bill is the greater use of complementary and alternative medicine in the national health service generally. The greater use of CAM in the health service started with fundholding GPs and has been taken up, with varying degrees of success, by primary care groups and, perhaps, primary care trusts. More and more people are using complementary and alternative medicine, and we now have greater use of complementary and alternative medicine in the NHS. Thirdly, we are looking at a new style of health provision overall--what is termed integrated health care: the combined use of conventional and complementary medicines.
My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) touched on the exponential growth in the use and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine. She gave some examples from the Sheffield study of the use of CAM by doctors. I could add to what she said. It has been established by a survey that 75 per cent. of the population want complementary and alternative medicine to be available on the NHS, and that between 20 and 25 per cent. of the population already use one form or another of complementary and alternative medicine. I need hardly tell colleagues that the fact that complementary and alternative medicine is a key interest for one quarter of the British population has profound political implications.
My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden also mentioned newspapers' interest in complementary and alternative medicine. The tabloid newspapers--such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, but also the others--have regular features on complementary and alternative medicine. The articles are not just one column long; they are usually four pages long. The Sunday newspapers, too, often have features on complementary and alternative medicine.
I have always felt that, in a sense, public opinion is ahead of the House on the subject of complementary and alternative medicine; unfortunately, we have often been behind on it.
Mr. Burns: How is it possible to judge successful treatment outcomes in alternative medicine compared with outcomes in more conventional medicine?
Mr. Tredinnick: There are many different complementary and alternative medicines, and outcomes are judged in different ways. The evaluations, too, are very different. One of the targets of the complementary and alternative medicine disciplines is to develop greater transparency, greater understanding of what works and--this is the subject of new clause 7--better, more effective regulation of complementary and alternative medicine providers. One of the points that I hope to develop later in my speech is that we are gradually establishing some order in the mass of those different disciplines.
The issue is important because of the great interest in complementary and alternative medicine. The United Kingdom population is voting with its feet on the issue. One can barely walk down a high street in Britain without coming across a health food shop selling complementary and alternative medicine products. One cannot go into a conventional chemist, such as Boots, without finding a whole range of homoeopathic preparations by one of the well-known providers, such as Nelsons. One can find Bach flower remedies and vitamins of every description on the high street. People are not mugs--they would not buy those things if they did not work. The fact is that there is great interest in and great demand for complementary and alternative medicine.
The concept of integrated health care is here to stay. Not only the Government but the Opposition have been addressing the issue of integrated health care. Way back in 1987, the all-party parliamentary group for alternative and complementary medicine set integrated health care as one of its principal targets. Undoubtedly, some of our distinguished colleagues, who are no longer with us, had vision and could see the issue's importance. It was only
The report--entitled "Integrated Healthcare: A Way Forward for the Next Five Years?"--was launched, at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, by the then Secretary of State for Health, the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). He not only spoke in favour of the report, but gave some money for research in complementary and alternative medicine. The report gave the medical profession a benchmark to work by. The very fact that those who ran the royal colleges and many highly respected medical practitioners were involved in the report has given it great credibility. The report has been fundamental in the acceptance and development of complementary and alternative medicine.
Earlier this week, at its request, I met the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, the offices of which are just over Lambeth bridge. I never thought of the society as being particularly interested in complementary and alternative medicine. However, it is the professional and regulatory body for all of Britain's pharmacists.
Professor William Dawson, who invited me to the society's offices, wrote:
The next point in my argument supporting the new clause relates to the increased use of complementary and alternative medicine in the national health service. The person who really got the ball rolling--not in the last Parliament, but the one before--was the then hon. Member for Loughborough, now my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Mr. Dorrell), who as Under- Secretary, following meetings with the parliamentary group and others, produced a health service directive to the effect that if conventional practitioners took clinical responsibility for the actions of complementary therapists, they could engage their services and pay them out of the national health service budget. That was a significant breakthrough in the use of complementary and alternative medicine in the health service. When right hon. Friend became Secretary of State, he always kept a wary eye on that issue, supported by the then hon. Member for Bolton, West, Tom Sackville.
Let me say to the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart), that there has been a progression in the thinking in the Department of Health--a gradual move towards integration of the use of complementary and alternative
The major development that followed my right hon. Friend's initiative was the introduction of GP fundholders, who were instrumental in spreading dramatically the use of complementary and alternative medicine. Under the arrangements that many of my hon. Friends will remember--and others who were not in the House at the time may not remember so fondly--a small number of doctors could get together and become GP fundholders. Therefore, doctors who were strongly in favour of complementary and alternative medicine could become fundholders and allocate a proportion of their budget to those therapies.