Here. (I will take down the text once have toll free link from bmj.)
There’s been a shift in the world of alternative NHS medicine. I know, I know, alternative so called medicine is only medicine that doesn’t work: so how come it’s still chumming up with our evidence aware NHS? It’s not, you see, called “alternative” or even the giveaway “homoeopathic” medicine any more. Keep up: it’s now called “integrative medicine,” which is the most insulting, misleading, and nonsensical rebranding yet.⇑
So the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital is now the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. In Glasgow, it has become the Centre for Integrative Care. Bristol calls one of its clinics the Integrated Centre for Health. You get the idea. As we have come to realise, homoeopathy is placebo, and rather than closing the places down they have tried to corner what does work—listening and spending time with patients—as their new specialism. The new moniker, said Dr David Reilly, clinical director at the Glasgow centre, is “reflecting its development work in creating new models of care especially in long term conditions, with an emphasis on person centred, individualised therapeutic relationships aimed at helping people enable their own strength and self care.”
Does this mean that doctors listen to patients; try to work out what would help and what would be acceptable to them; and encourage, support, and plan for the future? Instead of these being core attributes of normal good care, integrative care is attempting to lift these essentials away from the norm and into their special realm, spiced with placebo pills and acupuncture, which inject the consultation with inherent untruths.
It isn’t fair that professional, compassionate care is seen as something of a specialist competency to be available only to those who consort with non-evidenced based medicine. Interest in the whole person is what good doctors have always had. Creating a new brand of integrated care almost accuses those of us in normal medicine of aiming for something different. If only we had the resources to spend more time with patients and we were allowed to treat people’s concerns with professionalism and evidence rather than the will of the government’s general practice contract. Then everyone might have a chance to benefit from professional medical care, not just a few willing to suspend their disbelief.
Real integrated care can only be provided by evidence based doctors. Anything less is a grave disservice. But I’m a forgiving sort. Integrative doctors, come on. Ditch the homoeopathy; get rid of your reiki. Come back to discover the necessity, richness, and vitality of evidence. Find fulfilment in the honest human values shared in the relationship between doctor and patient. Help us get rid of politics in the consulting room, abet us in ripping up the general practice contract, and let’s all help all of our patients.