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Alternative Medicine

Volume 458: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how the pilot project to provide complementary and alternative medicine-CAM-within the NHS in Northern Ireland will be administered. (119305)

GPs attached to the selected practices within the pilot will refer their patients for treatment to one of the therapy groups included on the scheme. These are at present osteopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage and aromatherapy. Get Well UK will receive the referral and contact the patient to make an initial appointment for them. The use of Get Well UK will remove the administration burden from the CAM therapist and allow them to focus totally on patient care. All stakeholders (patients, practitioners, GPs) will be asked for their feedback. This information will be collated by Get Well UK and will be independently evaluated.

A steering group will be established, chaired by the Department and containing key stakeholders from the health and social services boards, the various CAM therapy governing organisations, GPs and the health and social services councils. This group will monitor the service, including that provided by Get Well UK, and evaluate the feedback from GPs, patients and practitioners. The group will consider where necessary during the pilot any changes that need to be implemented to ensure that the scheme meets its aims and objectives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether members of the NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners will have to apply to be recognised as a Get Well UK therapist operating in Northern Ireland. (119306)

Practitioners wishing to participate in the pilot scheme were required to register with Get Well UK. Practitioners are able to join the NHS register of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners for a fee, but being on the register does not provide proof that the person or organisation registered is qualified or competent. It remains the responsibility of the person or body who engages the services of any practitioner to ensure that they are properly qualified.

The recruitment and quality assurance system provided by Get Well UK on behalf of the Department is robust. As well as asking about practitioners' qualifications and training, copies of all certificates and insurance details are kept on file, references are taken and police checks conducted to comply with The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003. Get Well UK also conducts face-to-face interviews to ensure the suitability of practitioners to work in the health service as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what experience of (a) delivering complementary and alternative medicine and (b) operating in Northern Ireland, Get Well UK has. (119307)

Get Well UK was formed in May 2004 and has delivered five complementary medicine contracts in NHS primary care settings since that time. It was established as a not-for-profit organisation specifically to deliver complementary and alternative medicine services. Its managing director has 10 years' experience of managing and delivering complementary medicine services. The Board includes people at both chair and chief executive level within the NHS and an osteopath of 30 years' standing who was the medical director of an osteopathic school and a council member of the General Osteopathic Council.

Get Well UK was given a special award in the 2005 Awards for Good Practice in Integrated Healthcare, “Integrated Health Futures Award: recognising innovation to improve health”. This was in recognition of the specific skills, infrastructure and exacting quality standards built into Get Well UK's service delivery.

Get Well UK has not operated in Northern Ireland previously.