The following recent article in the Nottingham Post demonstrates how acupuncture is becoming more mainstream and accepted in the NHS. One of the biggest benefits of acupuncture is that it has the potential to reduce the use of medication, especially for painkillers, which can have side-effects with longterm use and this benefit is now being recognised. Totally safe and side-effect free, acupuncture is now finding its rightful place alongside conventional Western medicine.
Spending on ancient pain-healing treatment has risen by more than a third in Nottingham in the past four years. The NHS Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which buys and plans health services, spent almost £505,000 on acupuncture therapy in the 2013-14 financial year – £145,000 more than in 2010-11.
The treatment, which derives from ancient Chinese medicine, involves inserting fine needles into certain parts of the body to ease pain. City GPs and specialist clinics said it had become increasingly popular for patients suffering from problems such as chronic backaches and migraines.
Dr Peter Holden, chairman of the British Medical Association in the East Midlands, said: "There's no question that acupuncture does work in the right patients and some of the reasons for the increasing bill is because we have better access to logical pain management clinics. GPs can't just refer someone to acupuncture – we refer them to a clinic, which suggests ways forward.
"It's not that people are now 'wasting' money on alternative medicine – acupuncture has a proven place and there's sound physiology in the way it works."
In the past, sceptics have dismissed it as a myth relying on the placebo effect. But the treatment has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, though only for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension headaches and migraines, claiming it has scientific evidence.
Dr Arun Tangri, a GP at Riverlyn Medical Centre in Bulwell and GP clinical lead for the city's CCG, said it had carried out a large public consultation, with patients "overwhelmingly" in favour of continuing acupuncture services.
He added: "It can be good because it means people are using less medicine like ibruprofen and co-codamol, which can have long-term side effects, such as damaging kidneys and the liver. People are requesting it more, which is probably because they are getting benefits from it."