On Friday, I got some great news: I’m officially recognised as being a trusted and trustable UK Health Professional. As part of a far-reaching review of the way the NHS provides care, doctors and nurses are being urged to use the services of registered nutritional therapists like me.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
You may have noticed the blog has been quiet lately. That’s primarily because I have been battling with the demons that have been lurking since I have turned my focus to cancer. There are strict laws around what I am allowed to say about what I do. There are also numerous trolls policing the boundaries with fundamentalist fervour. Technically, I’m risking prosecution under the 1939 Cancer Act; realistically, it’s unlikely since the law is generally applied with a healthy dose of common sense. But you will appreciate it’s not an altogether comfortable place to sit. It’s enough to deter most complementary healthcare professionals from entering the field. Job done.
Then, last week, the promising Medical Innovation Bill, brought by Lord Saatchi, was thrown out as a result, ironically, of an intervention by Liberal politicians. Another blow for those seeking to broaden the healthcare focus to include more than drugs and surgery. And another nail in the coffin of patient freedom.
Dark days. I was thinking of changing career.
But then, at 7pm on Friday evening, a game-changing message arrived in my inbox announcing a new report by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. They are the governing body who oversee the statutory bodies that regulate health professionals in the UK. They also set the standards for organisations who hold voluntary registers and accreditation systems for health professionals who are not subject to statutory regulation.
As a result of an extensive review of health care provision which recognises that we are at a critical crossroads, they are persuaded that there is a need for radical change. Specifically that nutritional therapy has a role to play in UK health care, and that registered nutritional therapists are just as competent and safe as other health professionals.
This is an important breakthrough. It allows me to reassure you, my clients, that I’m a trusted professional. It allows me to engage as an equal with doctors who are prepared to listen. It allows doctors to trust the fresh perspective I can bring to patient outcomes. It allows me to hold my head up amidst accusations of quackery and charlatanism that belie the fifteen years of constant study that my reputation is built on.
Perhaps the most important thing it creates is a platform for doctors to cooperate with other respected health professionals. It offers the chance to create an integrated standard of care that takes into account everything we know about human wellbeing. It holds the promise of new breakthroughs in addressing the pressing health problems we are facing as a nation or, more accurately, as a civilisation. It implicitly recognises the role of nutrition in these problems and heralds a future where good nutrition could be combined with effective drugs to build a population which is not looking at a future where 1 in 2 of us will be diagnosed with cancer. It allows you, the patient, to have a sensible discussion with your medical professionals about the role of nutrition in your illness without being treated like an imbecile.
Imagine a country (or an election campaign!) where health care was not the most pressing problem. Imagine what human beings could achieve if they were not constantly spending all their time focussing on their own wellbeing, constantly in fear of getting diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer’s. Imagine what sort of world we could build if we could direct more of our resources in the direction of world problems rather than national health.
I sincerely believe that recognising the vital role of nutrition, endorsing it and offering it alongside pharmaceutical and surgical treatments has the potential to change the world.
You may say I’m a dreamer… but I’m not the only one.
Here is a summary of the report findings, taken from the BANT.org.uk website:
Today the Professional Standards Authority published a report entitled “Accredited Registers – Ensuring that health and care practitioners are competent and safe report.” This document emphasises the fact that the traditional healthcare system is a the cusp of a dramatic change, and that practitioners of newer and/or complementary professions such as Nutritional Therapy are as competent as other traditional healthcare providers, and that they can make a difference by working together with them as part of multidisciplinary teams under NHS commissioning.
In today’s report, Mr Cayton says that “the NHS is re-examining the way it delivers services and is exploring new models of integrated care better-suited to today” and explains that with changing times the need to deliver new, innovative ways to improve people’s health is more pressing than ever. The PSA calls for traditional health professionals like Medical Doctors and Nurses to look beyond the confines of the health and care system they’ve been used to, and to create broader multidisciplinary team that engage the 63,000 practitioners on 17 Accredited Registers covering 25 occupations, one of which is Nutritional Therapy. This will offer different approaches to care which NHS commissioners can choose with the confidence that they are competent and safe.’ Mr Cayton continued to say that “we must invest in prevention and wellbeing to deliver healthcare for the 21st Century. The complementary therapists registered with CNHC are among the health practitioners who have a key role to play in this new model.”
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