Sharing the spirit of the policy agenda? Private complementary therapists’ attitudes towards practising in the British NHS
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During recent years, complementary medicine (CM) has grown as a significant provider of health care in the UK, the majority of this provision being allocated through the small private business sector to privately paying clients. Given the substantial demand for CM, the government acknowledges its structural integration with orthodox medicine (OM) to be a logical progression. However, although the time frame, evidence bases and regulatory structures are as yet undetermined, key to the current emphasis on integration is an underlying assumption that private sector providers would be willing participants, potentially alongside nurses. In this context, using a combined questionnaire (n=426) and interview (n=49) survey, this paper makes an initial exploration and considers the current connections that private therapists have with OM and their attitudes towards collaborating with and working within the NHS. The majority of therapists claimed not to have existing business connections with NHS providers, though many stated that they had established some form of informal arrangements. In general, therapists were happy that they had experienced increasingly positive reactions from orthodox clinicians towards their therapies. The overwhelming majority of therapists were positive about the proposition of working within OM but did have certain reservations. Given the range and intensity of opinion found in this initial investigation, the paper concludes by signposting some substantive avenues of focused research inquiry on the structural integration of CM and OM.
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