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GPs go forth

DH plans complementary therapy pilots

By Lilian Anekwe

The Department of Health has invited PCTs to participate in a pilot of complementary therapies for the treatment of chronic low back pain.

Acupuncture and spinal manipulation have both been recommended by NICE as treatments for chronic low back pain – a decision that was criticised by primary care experts.

The pilots will assess the ‘feasibility and benefits' of complementary therapies for the treatment of chronic low back pain', and ‘help determine whether these therapies can be effectively integrated as part of NHS primary care management of these patients', the Department of Health announced.

GPs in pilot areas will have to help patients to choose their preferred therapy, in line with NICE guidance.

A recent observational study from Northern Ireland suggested that access to CAM not only improved patient wellbeing but also saved NHS costs through reduced consultations.

Health secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘This pilot and its evaluation will provide us with good evidence about the benefits for patients and value to the NHS of extending the treatment choices available for the management of a disabling and costly condition.'

NICE recommends acupuncture for chronic low back pain

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