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4.12 p.m.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I too would like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, who is so knowledgeable on this subject, for initiating such an important debate today and for opening it with such eloquence and clarity. There is great and growing interest in non-conventional medicine today as we can see by the long list of speakers. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Winston, on his fascinating speech and I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Eames. I, too, like my noble friend Lord Colwyn, tried for a debate on this subject, but unsuccessfully.

At this stage I would like to declare an interest as a director and member of the board of the Foundation for Integrated Medicine, a registered charity. I believe that I should add, in the present climate, another interest in this field, as having nursed and been an active member of the British Red Cross Society for 25 years.

The noble Lord, Lord Baldwin, initiated a previous debate on this large and complex subject in May 1990. So much has happened in the past six years in this field that it is most timely for this debate today. Medicine is changing so rapidly with new, exciting discoveries every day. That is a far cry from, as Moliere described it in the 17th century, when discussing the heart and liver:


Wonderful new discoveries are saving more and more lives daily. Modern medicine has achieved outstanding results. However, there are increasing limitations and escalating costs. There are now real fears that the demands being placed upon the conventional health services may generate burdens which could prove impossible to meet. There is also some concern about the potential side effects of treatment. More could be achieved in our health care system, and often at lower cost, if effective complementary therapies were integrated into the existing practice.

Existing health care systems are experiencing growing difficulty in addressing 20th century illnesses, many of which are due to the effects of modern society. Even though Benjamin Franklin said,


    "The best of all medicines are resting and fasting",

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which may be true with sleep of course, but often the pace and pressures of today no longer allow just this luxury. This is where the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine can really help.

Over the centuries vast experience has been gained all over the world from the use of traditional treatments. It is vital today that we safeguard the knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation relatively untouched by our modern developments in countries like India and Brazil. Many of these treatments need to be researched so that the benefits can be enjoyed by people everywhere. These forms of treatment are becoming more and more popular, yet to be used on a large commercial scale further research is needed into effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, and alas, as we all know, that costs money.

Complementary medicine should not be seen as a threat to conventional medicine. More and more doctors are interested in its potential and many people suffering ill health are using different therapies. A partnership is possible where all will benefit. Several "Establishment" bodies, some with full, others with partial government funding, like the BMA and the royal colleges, and some independent ones like the Research Council for Complementary Medicine and our own Parliamentary Group for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, are doing a magnificent job. This is surely a good moment for more recognition where national funding would be really popular. The most recent figures that we have are from 1991-92, when the National Health Service spent £1 million out of its £37 billion budget. I know that this is a vast area of medicine and there have been areas of recognition by an Act of Parliament both in osteopathy and chiropractic, as the noble Lord, Lord Winston, said in his maiden speech. But there is still a very long way to go. The figures are impressive: 2,500 osteopaths working all round Britain treating over 20,000 patients every working day--well over 5 million consultations a year.

Nurses are also pioneering the expansion of the use of complementary therapies. In approximately 80 per cent. of cases where policies in this field have been developed in the health services around the UK they have been spearheaded by nurses. A future nurses' formulary might contain complementary therapies such as herbal medicines, essential oils for internal use and homoeopathy for those who are trained.

Greater priority and funding is needed for research so that consumers can be given the information and reassurance that they require. Several other governments around the world are recognising the benefits of integrating orthodox medicine with complementary medicine. As we have heard, in the United States they set up in 1993 the Office of Alternative Medicine, which receives considerable funding and is proving a great success. The German Parliament entrusted the government with the task of assisting the scientific evaluation and future development in this area by means of targeted research support and in Switzerland the Swiss Government in 1990 launched a national research programme on complementary medicine.

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It is surely not only in the Government's interest but also for the health of all their citizens to promote health and well-being in addition to treating illness. Integrated medicine tries to deal with people as whole individuals, obtaining their confidence and trust, building inner strength for the treatment of illness and finally to restore to people their feeling of self-worth and esteem through active participation in their own treatment, as the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin, stressed. That is often essential for recovery.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who has been so supportive for many years in this field, said in 1994:


    "Sharing responsibility for the care of patients by integrating properly trained and registered complementary therapists alongside what are considered to be more conventional practitioners could provide exciting long term benefits".

I hope that today will have stimulated debate on this topical and important subject and, more importantly, that complementary therapy can be further integrated within the National Health Service, providing positive benefits to patients. As in an old Arabian proverb:


    "He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything".

4.19 p.m.

Lord Eames: My Lords, I greatly welcome the debate this afternoon and support the proposition so ably put to the House by my noble friend Lord Baldwin. In particular, like many of the speakers so far, I welcome the very sympathetic and practical approach that he adopted towards the subject. While I share the trepidation of the noble Lord, Lord Winston, on this occasion, it will soon become obvious that I certainly do not share his expertise. In fact, I am reminded of, and would share with the House, the report made of the fictitious cadet at Sandhurst who, having completed a rather haphazard career through that esteemed establishment, had written across his final report by an examiner, "Should this candidate ever become an officer in the British Army, I am convinced that his soldiers will follow him not out of loyalty, but out of a sense of curiosity".

It is for that reason that we can safely say that we live at a time when there is immense concern and interest across the nation about all aspects of medical treatment. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that hardly a day passes when some aspect of medical care or medical concern does not fill the headlines. We have become a people aware as never before of the concerns of the medical profession and of the difficulties and yet opportunities which face it.

However, I also recognise that the whole subject of alternative or non-conventional medical treatment has become a somewhat sensitive issue for many of my friends and colleagues in the medical profession. I speak from a lifetime of experience of pastoral ministry to the people of Northern Ireland. I can assure your Lordships that, particularly over the past 25 years of violence, and of the suffering caused to so many because of violence, I have come to have a new appreciation of the value,

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integrity and professionalism of the medical profession in Northern Ireland. I gladly pay tribute to its members on the occasion of my maiden speech.

Perhaps I may presume in this debate to draw attention to a part of the subject before us which I do not feel receives adequate attention--certainly not to the extent that it deserves. On the one hand, as we have been told, we have structured professional medical care in hospitals and at bedsides in ordinary homes; on the other hand, we have that myriad of parallel and supportive work which we must surely recognise today as an integral part of healing. More and more, the phrase "pastoral care" is being used. Although it involves, in a rather narrow sense, members of my profession, it clearly has implications right across the board in new and exciting ways. Health is much more than a physical problem. As the noble Lord, Lord Winston, reminded us, the attitude of the patient to his or her illness is more and more becoming a vital feature in the healing process.

More than one writer has drawn our attention to the submission that much more attention must be paid to the relationship of modern medicine to healing. Too often we unfortunately have to conclude that scientific information has become the end rather than the means to the end of human service to human people. Eric Cassell wrote recently in one of his books of the danger of physicians viewing their job exclusively as the curing of disease and thereby being prevented from effectively making a lasting impact on the health, the overall health, of the nation.

That problem, which was highlighted by my noble friend in his opening speech, is of particular concern to the Church. Many efforts have been made in this century to bridge the gap between pastoral care and the expertise exercised by the Church and the work of medical practitioners. As your Lordships will recall, a major step forward was taken in 1947 when the British Medical Association approved a statement which said:


    "Medicine and the Church working together should encourage a dynamic philosophy of health which would enable every citizen to find a way of life based on moral principle and on a sound knowledge of the factors which promote health and well-being".

It is said that Chinese Mandarins used to pay physicians only so long as they remained well. Surely we need to learn the wisdom of that approach--for the caring professions are in the business of preserving health, not in addressing illness alone.

My plea today is that when we consider non-conventional medicine we give full recognition to the need, indeed the priority, of encouraging the fullest co-operation between the actual practice of medicine and the growing importance of pastoral care, pastoral support and pastoral concern for the health of our nation. This is a wide field and is one which, as I tried to say earlier, involves much more than the clergy. "Counselling" is a word which, like Topsy, has grown and grown. I, for one, am never quite certain what it means. However, that is part of a subject which is of immense importance and which is the real reason why I beg to presume to make a contribution today.

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I plead for full acceptance that this co-operative process should become the norm. Tension and suspicion between the two aspects of medicine must be avoided at all costs. Each has its role. In the overall context of the health of the country, I believe that together the two professions can discover a new dimension to the compassion and wholeness which should be the real substance of a healthy nation. Perhaps I may conclude by reminding your Lordships of a remark made to me by a seven year-old child who fell out of bed when he was supposed to be asleep. He said, "I think that I fell out of bed because I stayed too near where I got in".


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