Chinese medicine could be available on the NHS if there is enough evidence to prove that it would benefit patients, Jeremy Hunt has suggested.
The Health Secretary indicated that the health service could look at integrating traditional Chinese medicines with Western medical techniques. Mr Hunt said his frequent travels to China — his wife’s home country — had taught him that it is important to “follow the scientific evidence” concerning Chinese medicine. He said that taxpayers’ money should never be spent on the traditional techniques if there was not “good evidence” that they would be beneficial. He made the comments in the Commons on Tuesday in answer to a question from the Conservative MP David Tredinnick.
“In your travels to the People’s Republic of China, what have you learnt about the integration of Western medicines with traditional Chinese medicine?” Mr Tredinnick asked. The Health Secretary replied: “What I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is to follow the scientific evidence and where there is good evidence for the impact of Chinese medicine then we should look at that but where there isn’t we shouldn’t spend NHS money on it.”
Chinese medicine can involve herbal remedies, acupuncture and massage therapy. NHS Choices states the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends acupuncture as a treatment only for lower back pain. It adds that the recommendation is based on scientific evidence. American researchers recently said that a poppy plant used for centuries in Chinese medicine may offer a remedy for chronic pain.