GPs may benefit from using astrology to make health services more efficient and reduce public spend, a member of the House of Commons Health Committee has told Pulse.
David Tredinnick, Conservative MP for Bosworth, said he believes that the ancient practice – used in western, eastern and native American cultures for thousands of years – could ‘certainly’ be useful to GPs and also help reduce the cost of NHS as a whole.
The debate was important, he added, to stop the overuse of antibiotics and reduce pressure on doctors, by guiding patients in understanding what type of ailments they may be prone to, based on the position of the planets at the time they were born.
Asked whether it could also help GPs in treating patients, Mr Tredinnick said: ‘Certainly. Particularly a lot of GPs from the Indian subcontinent would be aware of the Indian astrology and probably apply it. I mean there are doctors here who do astrology. It has been around for so long that I think it is time to stop saying “it has no evidence”, it has been used for 3,000 years in all these cultures and we need to be a bit more broadminded.’
‘[Astrology] does have a part to play and I’ve studied it over 20 years, but it doesn’t work on the basis of double-blind placebo controlled trials. It works on the basis of observation and to a degree intuition, and this is something that we have lost in the health service. We rely too much on evidence and we should listen more to patients’ experience which is what we always used to do.’
For example, astrology may help GPs and their patients understand which pending health issues they should be on the lookout for, he added.
Mr Tredinnick said: ‘The signs of the Zodiac have been associated with different ailments. For example Capricorns are associated with the knees, I am a Capricorn and I’ve always had to watch my knees, Aries is the head, Pisces is the feet and you have the others sort of going in order from top to bottom. That’s a fairly simple way of looking at it but some people because of their astrological make up would be more susceptible to some ailments than others.’
He added that the ‘bigger point’ though was how turning to complementary medicine could help achieve the ‘Nicholson challenge’ of cutting spending on the NHS by increasing efficiency and also the help avert the ‘drugs crisis’ linked to antimicrobial resistance.
He said: ‘We have to look at ways of reducing that demand. Traditional disciplines, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, which is very widely used in China, homeopathic medicine – 90% of pregnant women in France use homeopathic medicines – we need to try and have a better understanding of these options to reduce demand, so that it is not just about increasing supply. We have to produce other alternatives to reduce the pressure on existing services in the system and take the pressure off doctors.’
The MP clarified however that he was not suggesting the NHS pays for patients to have their astrological charts done.
‘I have not said that this should be on the health service. I have been quite clear about this. This is something that can be looked at by people, but I am not advocating that the health service pays for this service. To have a chart done, or a map done, an astrological breakdown of someone’s personality and likely behaviour costs about £30. You can go online, there are lots of people doing it, and you can buy it as a computer programme I use and I’ve done it for MPs in the past. It is very, very helpful and based on where the emphasis in your chart is you get some idea of where you are likely to be affected and where you are not.’
Pulse spoke to Mr Tredinnick in light of comments he made in the House of Commons last week that he hoped Government would stop ‘looking just at increasing the supply of drugs and consider the way that complementary and alternative medicine can reduce the demand for drugs, reduce pressures on the health service, increase patient satisfaction, and make everyone in this country happier’.