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Complementary health foundation closes

By Steve Nowottny, Nigel Praities

The Prince of Wales’ controversial charity dedicated to promoting the use of complementary therapies has decided to close down permanently, after being embroiled in a fraud investigation.

The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health issued a statement saying the body had decided to close because it had ‘achieved its key objective’ of promoting the use of complementary therapies.

But it admitted the closure had been brought forward by a probe into the alleged misuse of funds by a former aide to the charity.

Dr Michael Dixon, the foundation’s medical director and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, told Pulse: ‘It’s pretty disappointing and depressing that this fraud investigation has happened and people have been arrested.’

‘But actually there have been plans for a while to close the foundation. The feeling was in a way it had done its work.’

The Prince’s Foundation has been rarely out of the news in recent years, with a very public spat with Professor Edzard Ernst over a complaint made by the charity, the foundation’s involvement in a much-criticised self-regulatory body for complementary therapy, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, and a proposal revealed by Pulse to develop ‘kitemarks’ for GP practices providing complementary therapies.

The statement from the foundation said: ‘The Trustees feel that The Foundation has achieved its key objective of promoting the use of integrated health. Since The Foundation was set up in 1993, integrated health has become part of the mainstream healthcare agenda, with over half a million patients using complementary therapies each year, alongside conventional medicine.’

‘The Trustees believe that the best way of promoting integrated healthcare in the future is through the networks of specialist practitioners which the charity has helped to establish.’

Professor Edzard Ernst, a prominent critic of the foundation and professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School, said of the closure: ‘This organisation had become totally untenable [and] its activities were fast becomming a major obstacle to good public health. I hope that once this shameful episode is over we can discuss CAM rationally again.’

But Dr Dixon said that plans drawn up at the foundation’s conference last year to form a college of clinicians committed to integrated health and care would be taken forward.

‘Preparations are only at their very first stages,’ he said. ‘Watch this space, but I’m very confident that wihtin the next few months we’ll be able to make some announcements.’

The foundation promoted complementary therapies, such as homeopathy