Following on from the 2016 UK/EU EPA Conference, here is an update on some of the topics discussed. For full coverage of the 2016 Conference see the EPA Newsletter Sept 2016 - UK.
Complementary Medicine: The Political Climate in the European Union
For the past 10 years at least, there has been a strengthening science based medicine lobby intent on using evidence based medicine to justify the removal of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) from publicly funded health services and bringing an end to government bodies supporting access to CAM. This is in spite of the fact that a significant proportion of the UK and European use or are turning to CAM for treatment.
The EPA UK/EU continues to make sure we are aware of the current climate and build relationships that enable us contribute to the conversation on CAM’s future in the UK/EU, from beyond the current conversation. We continue to liaise with the key European bodies that represent CAM, but like the UK, CAM organisations in European countries are not a unified body of practitioners. Therefore, it is difficult to present a unified front to resist the forces trying to debase any forms of medicine which do not conform to the rules of the exclusive club of the scientific fraternity.
Balens Conference 2016 – how are complementary medicine associations working together and how together can we collect big data about complementary medicine?
Whilst CAM offers more treatments, and remedies than ever before, there is no accurate record of exactly how many complementary medicine practitioners are practising not just in the UK but worldwide. In addition, there has been very little research funding spent on the efficacy, effectiveness or value of CAM. To date, there has also been little co-operation of CAM associations working together to collect, analyse or share data.
In May 2016 Balens Insurance took the initiative to invite all of the CAM associations who use Balens' insurance for their members to come together for a forum to discuss these issues. They also discussed the political climate of CAM in the European Union, and the push by some national or international bodies for more evidence of the use/benefit of complementary medicine. At this first meeting the political climate of CAM was discussed, as was the paucity of research or data on complementary medicine world wide.
From this Balens initiated a 'Big Data' collection programme of work related to the natural health and well-being sectors, and the benefits they may bring to recipients and users. This commenced with a questionnaire for health and well-being professionals in Spring 2017 to be followed by a further forum to meet together in May 2017, where the next phase of data gathering from recipients/end-users will be further explored.
EPA UK/EU representatives attended this inaugural 2016 meeting and conference and will do so again in May 2017.
Getting involved with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK– NICE consultations and Contributing to National Health System Guidelines
Since January 2016, the EPA UK/EU have been registered stakeholders with the government’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), an organisation that provides written Guidance on the quality standards for the delivery of Clinical and Social Care services by the NHS (National Health Service). Public engagement is part of NICE’s declared social responsibility, and thus they regularly seek comment on their draft guidelines before they are formalised.
Like the NHS, NICE rely heavily on Evidence Based Medicine as their key reference in substantiating efficacy of a modality or medicine, defining whether it is safe and of public benefit. But human experience cannot be quantified or reduced in this one size fits all approach. Reliance on this method of evidence is a significant factor behind the current squeezing out of CAM in the NHS and publicly funded bodies across the UK.
The EPA UK/EU membership consists not only of Practitioners who work in clinics offering Esoteric Modalities accredited by the EPA, the EPA also has members who are Practitioners working in many industries including health and social care, who have together written and commented on health and social care consultations. In this, the EPA UK/EU offers a unique and powerful combination of Complementary Medicine Practitioners, Medical and Healthcare Practitioners, and Practitioners who work in health, social care and other related settings.
To date, the EPA UK/EU have provided 12 submissions to NICE on consultations that range from end of life care, oral health in care homes, mental health and social care of older persons, to increasing public engagement in NICE guidelines for lower back pain, eating disorders and child abuse.
As well as expanding the voice of the EPA UK/EU into mainstream health and care policy, the experience of writing for these submissions has offered EPA UK/EU members a deeper development in their expression, communication, and in their understanding of Local and National issues in health and social care.
The EPA UK/EU is committed to continue expanding its voice on matters of national health and social care, and to this end, a number of individuals and teams have extended their activity beyond the NICE guideline consultations. We see examples of this in our Physiotherapist/Osteopaths team working on Lower Back Pain and most recently the team commenting on the child abuse guidelines, which consists of social workers, parents, nurses and teachers, who are looking to contribute to wider government consultations in this area.
We draw on EPA members with direct professional and/or lived experience on the specific topic of engagement, but you don’t need to be an expert (Livingness is everything). If you would like to be involved in future submissions, please contact Sara Williams at: sara@epa_international.com