Why we need an integrated Health Service and to put the heart and soul back into medicine.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison 1847 – 1931.
I’m sure everyone who has been interested in Alternative and Complimentary medical therapies over the years will have heard of this quote. It was extremely popular 25-30 years ago when Alternative medical practices were gaining more recognition. The problem then was that ‘Alternative’ often came across as ‘anti’ medicine and Thomas Edison’s quote supported this with “…..will give no medicine”. Even in the 1930’s Edison knew that medicine would have to evolve, to become more holistic but maybe he should have said “…will give no medicine without interesting his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet etc.”
Now, more than ever, we need to interest and educate people on how to look after themselves. Our surgeries and hospitals are over burdened with a population suffering chronic symptoms and diseases for which there are no quick-fix medicines. Arthritis, Asthma, Allergies, Auto-immune disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Heart disease, Inflammatory Bowel disease, Depression, Menstrual and Menopausal symptoms and cancer are all medical problems that have increased appallingly. These problems are difficult and time-consuming for health-care services who, frequently, fail to adequately treat and therefore the patients end up disillusioned and with a poor quality of life. We know that the doctors are over-worked so we don’t even bother them with symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, excess weight, swollen ankles, fatigue, lack of concentration or memory, headaches, heartburn, joint pain and muscular aches and pains, we just treat ourselves with over the counter medications that TV adverts have shown us should work, strong anti-inflammatory drugs that used to be available only on prescription that can now be bought in a supermarket or medicines that can be bought over the Internet without proper medical advice.
46% of the UK population (apparently a high proportion of Doctors amongst them) visit Complementary or Alternative practitioners and this number has been steadily growing despite the fact that the costs can be quite high and are not often covered by the Health Service or the Insurance companies.
- because we feel the need for a better quality of consultation and more opportunity to voice our problems and concerns.
- because the treatment we seek needs to be more in line with our values concerning health and life.
- because we are searching for a better solution and not just an escalating list of prescription medications.
- because we want to be educated in how best to help ourselves.
So we have been going through a period of change and nearly half of the population are voting with their feet, educating themselves about their medical condition and demanding more from their health-care providers. We now need to move into an era of truly Integrated Medicine where medical treatment could involve diet, nutritional support, massage, reflexology, Acupuncture, Meditation, Hypnotherapy, Homeopathy, Herbalism, counselling etc. Evidence based methods that have been proven to promote health and well-being and tailored to each individual. This is not ‘pie in the sky stuff ‘ and these are not ‘new-age’ therapies and they are not a threat to Doctors. Hopefully, by expanding these practices both the doctors and the patients will have more support and will be empowered. Thirty years ago, in the NHS, I saw Acupuncture used for anaesthesia and to treat chronic nerve pain, many hospitals use reflexology and massage for cancer patients and hypnotherapy is used to help patients stop smoking and to treat phobias. Homeopathy is already covered within the NHS probably because doctors can gain the qualification on a Post graduate course.
The idea of Functional Medicine, where the whole body is looked at and the illness not just the symptoms are treated, is now spreading throughout the World and Clinics with multiple specialities being set up. If Doctors receive little to no Nutrition training then employ a Nutritionist within the practice. There is a Course in the UK in Bath, Somerset, for a Post Graduate Diploma in the Study of Integrated Medicine (Dip SIM). This Diploma is designed for doctors and nurses ” who wish to put the heart and soul back into Medicine.” Lets hope that it is the first of many and we see a strong move towards this new model of pro-active medicine and that it will soon become mainstream.