As institution and population face the challenges of age, the complementary health sector must play its part.
The 70th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service has prompted an outpouring of affection for the institution that has nursed and nurtured the UK population for generations.
A pioneering model when it was founded, our NHS is now globally recognised as a flagship national healthcare system.
The three core principles of the NHS have endured through successive governments:
- meeting the needs of everyone
- being free at the point of delivery
- being based on clinical need, not individuals’ ability to pay.
Yet the NHS at 70 is an organisation under pressure.
The twin factors of an ageing population and years of government austerity are eroding its ability to deliver the care for which it’s renowned.
On top of this, the escalating mental health crisis means limited resources are being stretched even further.
To avoid seeing the NHS becoming the patient, not the healer, we need to look at ways to harness alternative sources of wellbeing support and make them accessible to the population.
It’s time for complementary healthcare to play a part
Recent research by Public Health England found that, while we are living longer, we are spending more years coping with ill-health.
On average, men can expect to spend 16 years of their life in ill-heath, while it’s predicted that women will face 19 years battling poor health – almost a quarter of their average life expectancy.
Leading figures in public health have highlighted the need for the NHS to respond to the changing landscape and focus on prevention as well as treating some of the biggest challenges we face as a nation.
“...there remains a clear connection between the quality of our patients' lifestyle and their overall health.”
Prof. Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs.
This is the perfect time for the complementary health and wellness sector to collaborate with the NHS to offer alternatives that reduce the pressure on a stretched resource and also give patients a wider range of options to help them successfully manage their conditions and improve their lifestyles.
This isn’t a new idea – for some time GP surgeries around the country have been offering access to complementary therapies such as acupuncture, osteopathy, mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga to those suffering from long term chronic health conditions such as back pain and mental health problems.
They report successful patient outcomes alongside a reduction in expenditure on prescription medications. They also noted that offering complementary therapies through the NHS makes them accessible to a wider group of patients who could benefit but might not otherwise consider, or be able to afford, them. However, this approach is far from mainstream.
But, a shift in societal awareness around the connection between health and wellbeing in recent years means now is a golden opportunity to bring the benefits of complementary therapies to a wider audience and help to ease the pressure on our Health Service.
Making wellness mainstream – building demand for alternative approaches
People of all ages are growing increasingly aware of the importance of wellbeing. They’re becoming proactive about managing aspects from physical health, nutrition and fitness to mental balance and resilience.
The rising profile of the wellness industry is creating demand for practitioners across all disciplines.Alongside this there is a realisation that the causes of disease - and indeed dis-ease – are seldom straightforward.
Instead they are interconnected, and treatments should reflect this by incorporating multiple disciplines. We are starting to see an encouraging openness – among patients and doctors - to exploring new ways to address the health challenges we encounter in our lives.
People are actively looking for support on their journey.
It’s up to us, as practitioners in the complementary health sector, to make our services accessible to that population of seekers.
A report by PWC found that, particularly among older people, uncertainty about where to turn for support and advice on fitness and wellbeing can be enough to discourage them taking any active steps to improve it.
Helping people take that initial step on a journey of transformative change towards greater wellbeing is our core principle here at The Oneness Movement.
By creating a community that embraces the full range of complementary health and wellness disciplines, we want to be the first port of call for people seeking new approaches to wellbeing.
We aim to be easy to find and straightforward in our language, so that people who are new to exploring wellness therapies feel welcome and are encouraged to explore. And by introducing them to our community of wellness professionals we will give them the information they need to take the next step, and the next.
By championing the cause of wellness and transformative change, we want to do our part in supporting the NHS whilst relieving pressure, and at the same time helping people live better lives for longer.