Provision of acupuncture on the NHS is fairly limited. There are about 2000 doctors and 6000 physios who belong to special interest groups within their professions, but most use acupuncture only as another tool in the toolbox. They are also severely limited by only being able to offer treatment for conditions which have an accepted evidence base. These are few, not because there aren't any but because the standard test applied, the randomised control trial, was designed for drugs, not therapies like acupuncture, and the practice of acupuncture does not lend itself to such a design. There are hundreds of thousands of studies, mainly from China, which underpin the World Health Organisation's list of conditions which acupuncture can treat. A small number of BAcC members have managed to secure funding to provide acupuncture within the NHS, but these projects are few and far between. In theory GPs are allowed to use their practice funds as they wish, and could refer patients for treatment within their budgets, but in practice this does not happen. There is immense pressure on funding right now, especially with the Commissioning Groups taking over from the Primary Care Trusts, and with savings being sought everywhere possible, there is less chance of either individual provision or the funding of units or projects. The BAcC is keenly aware that with the average cost of a treatment being between £30 and £50, depending where you live, this puts treatment beyond the reach of many people. However, there are a growing number of innovative ways in which BAcC members are trying to reach people who otherwise could not afford acupuncture, and most members are willing to discuss reductions in fees if a small discount enables someone to have treatment. Ask your local BAcC members for advice.
If you have any questions about acupuncture, browse our archive or ask an expert.
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