Most of you will have come across the news recently that NICE, the medical watchdog, has recommended that patients suffering from back pain for over 6 weeks may in future be referred by their GP for a course of manual therapy treatment (in other words referred to an osteopath) under the auspices of the NHS.
- From the Times: Complementary therapies for back pain should be on NHS, says NICE
- The Guardian: Back pain sufferers to be offered acupuncture treatment on the NHS
For some time now, we have been interested in local developments that might facilitate patient treatment by osteopaths liaising with the patient’s GP, and we have already begun initiating meetings with local GP practices.
However, the key decision-maker of change locally remains the Primary Care Trust. There are a few examples of successful referral schemes to osteopaths that have started operating in this country – for instance one set up by the local PCT in Colchester.
Our understanding is there have been several contacts between the British Osteopathic Association and the Hillingdon PCT, but that we are still at a very early stage in this dialogue.
These are early days in a process that may reshape some of the healthcare landscape in this country, which may indeed radically change not just the mainstream attitudes towards osteopathy and other complementary therapies, but more importantly the nation’s approach to health and healing too.
As osteopaths, we welcome the opportunity one day of treating patients on the NHS and of working more closely with other primary health care practitioners. We will continue to follow developments carefully, playing a proactive role where possible, and keeping our patients updated on any clear changes in policy.