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Q: I recently watched a programme on television in which it was stated that acupuncture can be obtained free or at a greatly reduced cost if you volunteer to be a guinea pig for students to practice on. I have had acupuncture in the past for allergic rhinitis and found it to be very helpful but just could not afford to keep the treatments up. I enquired at my GP if I could have the treatment on the NHS but they only provide it for tennis elbow.

A:  The short answer is, we're afraid to say, 'no'. The list of training institutions which are in a formal relationship with the Accreditation Board can be found here:http://baab.co.uk/study-acupuncture/accredited-courses.html
 
and you will see that none is particularly close. In most cases the cost of travel would exceed the cost of treatment.
 
However, it would be fair to say that the great majority of our members are not driven by money, although clearly they have to pay bills and eat just like everybody else. Many members are willing to discount fees for patients who are genuinely hard up, and it may well be worthwhile asking the practitioners close to where you live whether they would be prepared to reduce fees.
 
However, this can get into some interesting discussions about what counts as hardship, and all of us have been 'burned' at least once in the early stages of our career by people pleading hardship when the patient's definition has extended to 'down to the last million and the Rolls has a puncture.' This particular expert let someone have treatment for £5 per session over several weeks on pleas of poverty, and was surprised, when asking whether the patient was booking in next week, to be told, 'oh no, dear, can't do that, we're off to Barbados for six weeks.' 
 
The vast majority of people who seek reductions are bona fide, however, and if you happen to live near BAcC members whose primary concern is helping people to get better, all shall be well. 
 

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