My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes North (Mark Lancaster) knows that I am committed to maternity services there and to helping them deliver the quality that his constituents expect. The hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) said that what works in Surrey Heath may not work in Hackney. Exactly-that is the point. When we devolve
decision making inside the education and health services, as we intend to do, things happen differently in different places. That is precisely why those services should be empowered to respond in different ways in different places, and that is our intention.
There have been some fabulous maiden speeches today. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) that I appreciate the 10 years that he has been fighting for the people of Harlow. He showed today his absolute commitment to maintaining exactly that support for the people whom he represents.
It is good to see the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) back, and to those of us who entered the House at the same time as him, it feels as though he had not gone away. I understand exactly what he says about Alder Hey, and the same is true of Broadgreen. I visited Alder Hey shortly before the election, and it tells us a lot when families are crammed together on a ward, but all they want to do is say how wonderful the care that they are receiving is. However, we have a responsibility to ensure that terrific care is provided in physical circumstances that reflect it. We cannot make announcements about the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen, or about Monitor in relation in Alder Hey as a foundation trust, but I hope that we will be able to do so soon.
The hon. Member for Chippenham (Duncan Hames) and others talked about the importance of community hospitals. I hope that he will have heard the Prime Minister say this afternoon that they are supported and valued. That is absolutely the case, and I know Chippenham hospital from visiting it in the past. The hon. Member for Luton South (Gavin Shuker) said that there is more to life than politics. That is very wise, very true and very good advice for those in the Labour party at the moment. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton North East (Emma Reynolds) has obviously learnt her politics well, because she mentioned the Express & Star, which is very sensible. She also talked about New Cross hospital, which I have visited, as she will know.
We must provide the public with the information required to enable them to support the driving up of standards through the exercise of control and choice, but also sometimes just through holding people to account publicly for the quality of the service that they provide. New Cross is a great example: there has not been a case of MRSA there since June 2009. That is terrific. The former Secretary of State will say, "Haven't we done well in reducing infections?" However, that is from a terribly high base. What will drive down infections is a constant focus on places that achieve the best results, and New Cross-as I know from personal experience-does extraordinarily well.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol North West (Charlotte Leslie) and others talked about the pupil premium and the health premium, how we can reduce health and education inequalities and how we can achieve a greater sense of equality in our society. Notwithstanding some of the correct arguments about the wider social determinants of health and education, if we tackle both as communities and as a society, we can do a great deal to reduce those underlying inequalities at the same time as we tackle economic inequality.
My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell) and I go back a long way-20 years-and it was a delight to hear him talking about Croydon and,
in particular, about leadership, because that is important. Many other hon. Members also talked about that issue, and rightly so. I heard no references to traffic lights from the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna), but I used to live in Balham and it was a delight to learn more about the area. I never knew that I was walking the longest high street in western Europe. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) managed to tell us about the world's first integrated sewer system and Meccano, so the debate this evening has been very educational.
I do not want to leave anybody out, and I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson), who talked about mutualism and social enterprise, which are terrifically important. We will do more to give employers in public services ownership of the services that they provide. The hon. Member for Bradford East (Mr Ward) will know that examples such as Born in Bradford will be part of how we approach our public health strategies. Everyone seemed to mention academies this evening, but my hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Heather Wheeler) was the only one to mention a golf academy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) made the important point that we must deliver improving long-term care that allies health and social care together. We will do that and we will reform adult social care-and we will not wait until 2015-16 as proposed. We will press on and examine how we can do that in a matter of months, not of years.
The hon. Members for Norwich South (Simon Wright) and for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) gave us further visions of how they will achieve their objectives for their constituencies, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Gordon Henderson) and the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Owen Smith). They are robust advocates in speaking up for their constituencies and explaining their convictions.
In conclusion, I am committed, as is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, to putting in place sustainable, stable reforms that achieve our vision of delivering health and educational outcomes that are as good as anywhere in the world, based on principles of equity, excellence and delivering greater efficiency in the services that we represent, but most of all based on empowerment of people.
David Tredinnick (Bosworth) (Con): I count myself lucky to have secured this debate on the day that we have debated health matters in the Queen's Speech, and to discuss integrated health care for the first time in this Parliament. I am fortunate to be- [ Interruption. ]
Mr Speaker: Order. I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman. This has been a stimulating and, for many, a rewarding day, but if Members who are leaving the Chamber could please do so quickly and quietly, the House will benefit from the words of the hon. Gentleman.
David Tredinnick: I am flattered to have the Secretary of State for Health on the Front Bench, the shadow Secretary of State for Health on the Opposition Front Bench and, to my left, a former Secretary of State for Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Mr Dorrell). It is perhaps pertinent that it was him-then the Member for Loughborough-who, as an Under-Secretary, first made it possible for GPs to refer patients to practitioners who were regarded as complementary and alternative, if they took clinical responsibility. That was the Conservative policy that he instituted way back in 1990.
"The voice of patients and the role of doctors will be strengthened".-[ Official Report, 25 May 2010; Vol. 510, c. 31.]
This evening I would like principally to address three related issues: the situation regarding homeopathy and homeopathic hospitals; the regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture; and the consideration of other available models, particularly in Australia and the United States.
Let me start by welcoming my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to her place. In a sense, this was an integrated health care general election, because the arch-opponent of anything to do with non-orthodox medicine, the former Member for Oxford West and Abingdon, was defeated and the gentleman who stood against me on an anti-alternative medicine ticket lost his deposit. That was because people are increasingly in favour of having alternatives in the health service. Indeed, 50% of the population have at some stage tried one form of integrated health care or another-acupuncture, herbal medicine or homeopathy-or a back treatment.
The Secretary of State's proposal for an independent national health service board to allocate resources, provide commissioning guidance and allow GPs to commission services on behalf of patients is the ideal vehicle to give guidance. The first point that I would like to make to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is that the new board, when instituted, should offer guidance, through the primary care trusts, on what is available in the health service and stress why integrated health care is so important, for which I would suggest there are three principal reasons. First, people often turn to the alternatives when mainstream medicine has not succeeded. Secondly, conditions often fall into what is known as the effectiveness gap-that is, a category that conventional treatment is
unable to help. Thirdly, people might not have benefited from conventional treatments or they might have experienced adverse effects owing to drug reactions.
Another important point, which fits the new coalition Government's proposal for cost-effectiveness, is that the alternative disciplines-herbal medicine, aromatherapy, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic-are very cost-effective. They are often cheaper than other treatments and, if used in conjunction with mainstream medicine, can be very effective in reducing the effects of heart disease, asthma, back pain and stress, for example. An integrated approach will offer my hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State new weapons in the armoury of health care.
In the past few years, there has been a concerted attack on the homeopathic hospitals in this country, which go back to the formation of the health service, and on homeopathic treatments generally, on the ground that the science is weak and does not demonstrate that they are effective. This has manifested itself in bogus Department of Health circulars, in the fact that the British Medical Association's conferences have tabled motions on the subject, and in the Science and Technology Committee's recent highly controversial report claiming that homeopathy was a placebo.
The effect of that has been to reduce the number of referrals from primary care trusts in London, particularly to the Royal London Homeopathic hospital. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Glenda Jackson) took up that matter. In other parts of the country, pressure has been put on training. I encourage my hon. Friend the Minister to make a statement tonight that the Government are supportive of the homeopathic discipline, as they said they were before the general election.
The problem with the report that the Science and Technology Committee produced was that it did not take evidence from primary care trusts or from the Society of Homeopaths, and it ignored completely the evidence from abroad, which shows a greatly increased use of homeopathic treatments. For example, in France, homeopathy is taught in seven medical schools and practised by 25,000 doctors. In India, it is part of the health service. There are 180 colleges teaching homeopathy there, and more than 300,000 practitioners. Whatever the merits of the scientific research, the fact is that there are 500 doctors in Britain who choose to use homeopathic treatments as part of their work. Whatever the science says-whether it is proven or not-those people believe that homeopathy works, and that is important.
The costs involved are absolutely minimal. The cost per year to the national health service of homeopathic medicines is £152,000, out of a budget of £11 billion. Over the three years from 2005 to 2008, the hospitals themselves cost the nation £12 million-£4 million a year. These are very small costs, and we really need to take that on board. We must also recognise that there are new approvals coming on stream. At Sao Paolo university in Brazil, homeopathic treatments have been found to be effective in treating depression, instead of Prozac, and the university of Texas has shown the positive effect of homeopathic treatments in killing cancer cells while maintaining good cells. There is a lot to look at there, and the message should be that doctors who wish to use these therapies should do so and should be free to refer. If we can get that simple
message across, we will have performed a great service. I am of course speaking to my hon. Friend on the Front Bench.
The regulation of herbal medicine and acupuncture is a crucial area. The previous Government spent for ever debating the matter and calling various professors to look into it. They asked for more and more information, and the final recommendations, produced by Professor Pitillo and Lord Chan, were that these areas should be regulated by the Health Professions Council so that there could be an interface with European legislation next year. However, the recommendation of the outgoing Government was that these matters should be regulated by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council instead. I think that that would be a mistake; I believe that we should go for stricter regulation. All the other disciplines could join the 3,000 now registered on the CNHC register. That would be the way forward. Certainly, all the organisations in the field-including the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the European herbal medicine and acupuncture societies-want statutory regulation.
Finally, I turn to deal with what is happening in the rest of the world. I have already referred to the fact that we should take note of the widespread and increasing use of homeopathy in France-I did not mention Germany -and India, while we should also look at what is happening in Australia, which has been a leader. In Australia, according to Government reports, 50% of the population are now using herbal or complementary medicines. There are a number of colleges where these disciplines can be studied and a Complementary Medicine Evaluation committee has been set up; the Australians also have a Therapeutic Goods Administration committee. Herbal medicines are considered by the TGA of Australia to be
"reasonably safe with less adverse reactions than conventional pharmaceutical treatment"-
"to promote high-quality scholarship and research excellence in herbal medicines through teaching, research and international linkages."
In fairness to the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), who has just left the Chamber, I should say that he introduced a number of surveys, through the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which was a welcome development. I think, however, that my hon. Friend the Minister could do more, and I hope that she will. The Australian institutions were given a lot of money. I am not suggesting that there is a lot of money around at the moment, but if Australia can provide $4 million to start up and get going its National Institute of Complementary Medicine, it is something that we should also consider doing.
The other country way ahead of us is the United States of America, which now has a National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the federal Government's lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine. It is one of 27 institutes that make up the National Institute of Health in the US and it is statutorily regulated. The mission is to explore
"complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science... train complementary and alternative medicine researchers and... disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals."
During my time in the House, I have had the honour to chair and be an officer of the parliamentary group for integrated and complementary healthcare and the old parliamentary group for alternative and complementary medicine. Over a period of more than 20 years, we have seen these disciplines come in from out of the cold to complement and augment the wonderful work of our national health service. With our very liberal approach to empowering doctors and to giving patients greater choices in what they want, we have a great opportunity to draw on the wonderful resources we now have vested in our homeopathic hospitals, which offer many other treatments besides homeopathy, and in our 20,000 to 30,000 practitioners out there in the field who can offer herbal medicine and acupuncture.
The Minister now has a great opportunity to grasp the nettle and complete the great work that was started when my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood-originally the Member for Loughborough-agreed that doctors taking clinical responsibility could refer to these practitioners. We need to move 20 years ahead, and complete this process with statutory regulation for herbalists and acupuncturists, proper referrals and an acceptance that our 500 homeopathic doctors can refer patients if they want to do so. If we do that, my hon. Friend the Minister will be well remembered in years to come.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anne Milton): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) on securing this Adjournment debate on complementary and alternative medicine and integrated health care-a subject that I know is close to his heart. His continued interest and continued efforts to raise the matter in this House, as well as his determination to keep the issue alive and uppermost in our minds, is legendary. He commented himself on his 20 years of campaigning on this issue. It is important to note that it is the efforts of individual Members-their continued efforts, sometimes against the odds-that keep these issues uppermost and alive in our minds.
My hon. Friend may be interested to know that although I trained as a nurse and worked in the NHS for 25 years in conventional medicine, my grandmother trained at the homeopathic hospital in London, and was herself a homeopathic nurse. Later, she became a Christian Scientist. I am therefore not without my own roots in alternative therapies. My hon. Friend may also be interested to know that my grandmother never, until her death at the age of 89, took any conventional medicine.