Update: Health: Complementary medicine urged

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The Government is being urged to encourage complementary medicine in the NHS after a survey found that barriers remain to its usage.

A study for the NHS Confederation found that in one area, Leicestershire, treatments such as aromatherapy and reflexology - once dismissed as the work of cranks by doctors - were now widely used within the NHS.

The survey of 651 health professionals showed a willingness to introduce complementary medicine at "grass roots" level in the NHS.

But there were four main barriers to further CM usage: - lack of knowledge of practitioners for referral, lack of available funds, concern about the competence of practitioners and therapists, and lack of effectiveness evidence. Only a Government programme could address these issues because health authorities and trusts had insufficient resources, said the Confederation, which represents health authorities and trusts.