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How acupuncture can work in harmony with the NHS

How acupuncture can work in harmony with the NHS

Clinical head of service at the Gateway Clinic, Dominique Joire, extols the virtues of an acupuncture service that is fully integrated into the NHS.

The Gateway Clinic, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, has been fully integrated into the NHS since 1992, treating about 300 patients per week. GPs from Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham can freely refer their patients with long-term chronic pain, migraine, cancer pain, fibromyalgia and also for HIV support.

The clinic offers patients a course of 6 to 12 weekly acupuncture treatments but also dietary and lifestyle advice with daily drop-in sessions of auricular acupuncture, Qi Gong, Pilates classes and mindfulness meditation sessions.

Our aim is to empower long-term chronic patients to get control back with their health.

Our popularity with patients is that we just roll our sleeves up and treat them all.

This is a busy and buzzy multi-bed clinic (7 couches), with 2 or 3 practitioners working together.

We are based in a community centre in colourful South London, with patients and staff mingling together and where patients share experiences and move from treatment couch to ear acupuncture room or Qi Gong class.

We also take time to simply listen to them. Patients are often referred by their GPs with no idea of what acupuncture is; so we have to be pragmatic, give simple facts with no Yin and Yang jargon, treat them swiftly, get some results fast and let the acupuncture do the magic!

Our clinicians have been working here for decades and we love not only the team work that is unique, but also the chance to treat patients that we would never see in private practice. They come from all walks of life, often with the most complex medical history and we just have to make it happen, use our skills and our intuition. The beautiful transformation of patients in their recovery reminds us all why we chose this profession and it is a daily gift.

Our longevity in the NHS is also due to the feedback mechanism of patients returning to their GP with positive experiences over many years, and also to the many outcome reports (MYMOP questionnaire)  and studies that we continuously provide to GPs and Guy’s and St Thomas’ multi-disciplinary teams.

The essence of the clinic has always been to treat patients that didn’t necessarily have the best deal with the western medical approach, from HIV patients in the 90s, to those with long-term chronic conditions, to fibromyalgia patients now. With this approach, we offer GPs a positive alternative where patients can be listened to and cared for holistically.

As an example, after treating many chronic pain patients successfully, we noticed that a group of patients was not doing as well as the rest: fibromyalgia patients. As a team we are now investigating and monitoring this patient group to develop better practice. We are now offering fibromyalgia patients a package of body acupuncture based on TCM diagnosis, an anti-inflammatory diet, weekly Qi Gong classes and mindfulness meditation; while monitoring their progress with a Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIRQ) and a medication change questionnaire.

This great practice opportunity is largely due to the unique chance of being in the NHS which provides the support and expertise to develop best practice.

We are lucky to work in an NHS Trust that recognises this little jewel they have in the community, and the NHS should be proud too.


Clinical head of service at the Gateway Clinic, Dominique Joire, extols the virtues of an acupuncture service that is fully integrated into the NHS.


The Gateway Clinic, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, has been fully integrated into the NHS since 1992, treating about 300 patients per week. GPs from Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham can freely refer their patients with long-term chronic pain, migraine, cancer pain, fibromyalgia and also for HIV support.

The clinic offers patients a course of 6 to 12 weekly acupuncture treatments but also dietary and lifestyle advice with daily drop-in sessions of auricular acupuncture, Qi Gong, Pilates classes and mindfulness meditation sessions.

Our aim is to empower long-term chronic patients to get control back with their health.

Our popularity with patients is that we just roll our sleeves up and treat them all.
This is a busy and buzzy multi-bed clinic (7 couches), with 2 or 3 practitioners working together.

We are based in a community centre in colourful South London, with patients and staff mingling together and where patients share experiences and move from treatment couch to ear acupuncture room or Qi Gong class.

We also take time to simply listen to them. Patients are often referred by their GPs with no idea of what acupuncture is; so we have to be pragmatic, give simple facts with no Yin and Yang jargon, treat them swiftly, get some results fast and let the acupuncture do the magic!

Our clinicians have been working here for decades and we love not only the team work that is unique, but also the chance to treat patients that we would never see in private practice. They come from all walks of life, often with the most complex medical history and we just have to make it happen, use our skills and our intuition. The beautiful transformation of patients in their recovery reminds us all why we chose this profession and it is a daily gift.

Our longevity in the NHS is also due to the feedback mechanism of patients returning to their GP with positive experiences over many years, and also to the many outcome reports (MYMOP questionnaire) and studies that we continuously provide to GPs and Guy’s and St Thomas’ multi-disciplinary teams.

The essence of the clinic has always been to treat patients that didn’t necessarily have the best deal with the western medical approach, from HIV patients in the 90s, to those with long-term chronic conditions, to fibromyalgia patients now. With this approach, we offer GPs a positive alternative where patients can be listened to and cared for holistically.

As an example, after treating many chronic pain patients successfully, we noticed that a group of patients was not doing as well as the rest: fibromyalgia patients. As a team we are now investigating and monitoring this patient group to develop better practice. We are now offering fibromyalgia patients a package of body acupuncture based on TCM diagnosis, an anti-inflammatory diet, weekly Qi Gong classes and mindfulness meditation; while monitoring their progress with a Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIRQ) and a medication change questionnaire.

This great practice opportunity is largely due to the unique chance of being in the NHS which provides the support and expertise to develop best practice.
We are lucky to work in an NHS Trust that recognises this little jewel they have in the community, and the NHS should be proud too.

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