Scotland has always been a trailblazer in person-centred, holistic care but this area has been systematically downgraded and starved of resources in recent years, according to the Friends of the NHS Centre for Integrative Care in Glasgow. They are calling for the award-winning NHS Centre to have its full funding reinstated and ring-fenced to protect core services, after systematic cost-cutting in recent years has substantially reduced its capabilities.
The NHS Centre for Integrative Care is the only purpose-built service for person-centred holistic healthcare in the UK. It was founded in 1880 as the first homeopathic dispensary in Glasgow and was known as the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital when the NHS was formed in 1948. In 1999, the service moved into its current facility on the Gartnavel Hospital campus. The £2.78 million purpose-built building was funded by the community and legacy donations.
When it was fully funded, the NHS Centre operated with a multidisciplinary team that included nurses, doctors and allied health practitioners, with a 15-bed in-patient ward and its own dispensary.
The Centre was also funded to conduct clinical research and offer Integrative Care training to conventional medical practitioners from the UK and beyond.
Rona Agnew, PhD, RN, former NHS manager and currently Chair of Friends of the NHS Centre for Integrative care in Glasgow said, “At that time, the Centre received more than 200 referrals per month, however the NHS Centre has had funding reduced over the years in cost-cutting exercises by the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board.
“The demand for “efficiency” in the early noughties meant that we saw funding redirected to specialist clinics designed to treat individual symptoms or conditions. The pendulum has now swung back however, with recognition of multifactorial conditions such as ME and Long Covid highlighting the need to take every aspect of an individual’s unique situation and lifestyle into account in the pursuit of independently manageable wellness.
“Only a holistic approach can do this effectively and we are calling for the NHS to reverse funding decisions to support the dedicated resource we already have, and to allow clinical research, clinician training and provision of care in Scotland to take a more person-centred approach once again“.
A recent study of Long COVID patients*, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) at Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, acknowledged contemporary demand for a holistic approach, saying, “Our findings support the need for a proactive approach to clinical follow-up, with a holistic assessment to include symptoms, mental and physical health, but also an objective assessment for cognition. (There’s) also the need for wide-access to post-COVID19 holistic clinical services to include mental health, memory and cognition, and rehabilitation services.”
The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine** has also stated, “Our current public health crisis has highlighted health disparities and the need for a Holistic Integrative Health and Medicine approach to disease prevention and health creation.”
Dr Agnew and the Friends of the Centre for Integrative Care argue that The Centre is ideally placed to champion the move to more integrative medicine but point out that since 2010, nursing staff have been cut from 22 full-time workers to two full-time workers and 1 part-time worker. Six doctor positions have also been cut, with only one replaced. The Centre has also lost its pharmacy, in-patient capability and weekend clinics as a result of NHS funding reductions.
Dr Agnew argues, “The Health Board members have not honoured the wishes of the donors who gave their money in good faith to build a dedicated specialist hospital that they thought would contain inpatient services and other facilities, and provide access to NHS homoeopathic as well as other recognised holistic services.
“We believe strongly that more person-centred, integrative care is the only realistic approach to the current mental health and post-viral pandemic we are facing in Scotland and urge anyone who is similarly minded to contact their MSP and urge full funding for the NHS Centre for Integrative care to be restored.”
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Notes for editors
ABOUT INTEGRATIVE CARE
Also known as Integrative Medicine, this approach focuses on restoring and maintaining health and wellness by considering a patient’s physical, mental and spiritual aspects along with lifestyle influences. It relies on partnership between practitioner and patient.
According to The Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health, “Integrative medicine and health reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”
Integrative Care contrasts with conventional medical practice where a patient sees a GP and gets referred to specialists based on specific symptoms, which are treated in isolation.
ABOUT THE NHS CENTRE FOR INTEGRATIVE CARE, Glasgow
Established in 1880, the NHS Centre is the UK’s only purpose-built hospital offering Integrative Care. The hospital offers a highly experienced clinical team which draws on their medical and nursing backgrounds for holistic assessment and treatments.
In a 2016 survey, patients reported increased wellbeing, the reduction or elimination of pharmaceutical drug use, and less frequent visits to their GPs following care at the NHS Centre. The service is recognised as a centre of excellence in person-centred care and is award-winning, locally and nationally, including the prestigious ALLIANCE Best Self Management Resource in 2016 and Scottish Health Award 2017 in Healthier Lifestyle Category. The team were also finalists in the Care for Long Term Illness category of the Scottish Health Awards in 2016 and 2017, and have received many other nominations and awards, including finalist for Inspiring City 2018 awards in Carer(s) category, and Community Champions awards.
The Centre for Integrative Care Nursing team were finalists for the 2018 Nursing Times Awards in the Managing Long-Term Conditions category with their Holistic Day Service model supporting self-management.
The NHS Centre for Integrative Care accepts referrals from all healthcare professionals in exactly the same way as all other hospitals and clinics; there is no cost for referrals or consultations. Referrals can be made by a GP, hospital specialist, a specialist nurse, physiotherapist, or other healthcare professional.
ABOUT FRIENDS OF THE NHS CENTRE FOR INTEGRATIVE CARE
Friends of the NHS Centre for Integrative Care, founded in 1995, works to ensure patients have access to the UK’s only purpose-built health service for person-centred holistic care. The charity does this by helping the public and health practitioners understand the free referral process, being a voice for patients and carers to MSPs and government health and social care bodies, and offering online programming on complementary therapies. Registered charity #SC023842 | friendscic.org | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07532619335
- Evidence that Integrative Medicine is more affordable: A 2018 study published in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicineshowed that Integrative Medicine pain treatment saved about $900 per hospital admission compared to conventional treatment. A 2012 analysis of the economic effectiveness of complementary therapies over conventional ones, published in BMJ Open, shows that there’s evidence the Integrative Care is more affordable, but that more research is required.
- Evidence that Integrative Medicine is effective: EUROCAM, focused on complementary and alternative medicine, provides a round-up of research databases and resources for traditional, complementary and Integrative Medicine. A primer can be found in this study: Integrative Medicine as a Vital Component of Patient Care, published in Aug. 2018 by journal Cureus.
- Integrative Medicine and holistic care is the future: AIHM says among Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2021 are a “shift back to values based medicine,” and that “integrative solutions to COVID will catapult research” for holistic and Integrative Medicine.
- Investment is being made in Integrative Medicine & Care: Leading efforts are noted by EUROCAM, European Congress for Integrative Medicine (conference being held 5-7 Nov., in London); and Andrew Weil Centre for Integrative Care, University of Arizona, among others. HRH Prince of Wales has called for more research into complementary and alternative medicine.