CCGs should redesign their clinical pathways to include alternative medicine and help deliver services that are needed locally, a parliamentary healthcare advocacy group has said.
In a report launched yesterday, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Integrated Healthcare set out a series of recommendations to ‘embrace complementary, traditional and natural medicines to ease the mounting burden on service provision’ in the NHS.
The group said CCGs should develop ‘innovative and entrepreneurial practices’, redesigning clinical pathways to include opportunities to develop the use of non-conventional medicines – including homeopathic and plant-based products – for certain long-term conditions.
Non-conventional medicines options
The APPG for Integrated Healthcare said NHS commissioners, including CCGs, need to make greater use of natural, traditional and complementary therapies to tackle the growing issue of polypharmacy.
The use of multiple concurrent medicines by a patient only works to ‘increase drugs dependency and cost to taxpayer rather than tackling the underlying root causes of illness’, according to the group.
The group added: ‘In an NHS that puts the patient at its heart, and reflects patients’ aspirations, needs and choices, this type of healthcare should be more widely available’.
Commenting on the report, chair of the APPG for Integrated Healthcare David Tredinnick said: ‘One of the fundamental difficulties the health service has at the moment is the evidence gap where there isn’t an understanding of how to deal with self conditions.
‘Once you’ve fired antibiotics and steroids at it, where are you going next? It’s into this gap that complementary healthcare falls.’
At the moment, CCGs are responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services in their local area, as they are best placed to know their community’s needs.
However, in its report, the APPG for Integrated Healthcare says this approach is inequitable and patchy, especially when it comes to the provision of non-conventional medicine.
The group said: ‘It’s vital that GPs are able to treat their patients in the most appropriate way based on their clinical judgement, and [that they’re] not curtailed by restrictive policies.
‘At the moment, GPs’ professional judgment can be overridden by CCGs’ commissioning policies, which disempowers doctors and isolates patients from the process.’
The group also recommended CCGs to give more ‘weight to patient outcomes and experiences’, as well as taking into consideration evidenced-based trials and research to a greater extend, to provide increased patient-centred care.