I shared a webinar platform with Doctor Wong the other week.  He is a Lovely dedicated GP who is firmly in the Integrative medicine camp.  He is on the Council of the College of Medicine which has Dr Michael Dixon as its Chair and the Prince of Wales as their patron.  They are trying to bring CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and the NHS closer together.   We managed to have an interesting chat as a result of which I asked him for a message for our clients to post.

He was very concerned that he is hearing that a lot of CAM practitioners are giving up because the Covid pandemic has wrecked their practices and they are still unsure what if anything they are allowed to do.  

I hope his words as an active front line friendly GP may offer you all reassurance and encouragement.

David Balen, Chairman, Balens


Message from Dr Toh Wong

General Practitioner, Westbank Practice, Exeter, Devon
Co-organiser of the Integrative Health Convention
Council Member College of Medicine

The impact of Coronavirus on the health sector and the world has been devastating but as we find our way through the other side of this, we are finding that although cases continue to climb from second spikes in infection all over the world, we are reassured by very few coronavirus-related deaths. This is no doubt due to many factors, including the people catching it being younger, better treatments available, and a likely milder form of illness from less deadly strains of the virus. 

As a GP with a unique insight into the world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), I realise that many of our patients rely on such health treatments rather than seek conventional western medical care from their GP and the NHS. I am thus concerned about the effect that Coronavirus has on this sector of the health economy. In fact, I must recognise and thank the CAM sector continuing to help our patients when NHS services such as physiotherapy were temporarily suspended from face-to-face contact. 

As with other parts of the economy, it is essential that the CAM sector survives the pandemic and its widespread effects. Thus, I would like to remind all CAM practitioners that the Government has given guidance about what to do to work safely when in close contact (the document on Close Contact Services and Working Safely with Coronavirus). It is unnecessary to try to second guess and go beyond this guidance, keep records of what and why you are doing things and check it off against the official documentation. This is not as daunting as it seems.

The UK Government has done astoundingly well to control the pandemic and keep numbers low in the UK. They have allowed normal businesses to start up again and are encouraging people to ‘eat out to help out’, on the basis that we are safe to do so. They have, and will, let us know by local lockdowns if they feel resuming normal activities are putting us at risk and will react to the number of coronavirus infections locally.

All decisions carry a risk, and for every risk, a decision has to be made. The Government has made it easy for us to make a decision to return to work while keeping us safe. Their guidance is there to allow us all to return to as normal a life as possible. So, I urge therapists to consider returning to work and providing the help that there is still a demand for. 

In General Practice, we are working a little differently and minimising face-to-face contact through the use of IT but we have also resumed routine checks and selected face-to-face appointments. It is likely all sectors that are able to, can also make some small changes that allow them to offer the best services for their clients safely by following the current guidance.

I look forward again to a thriving CAM health sector that is more important than ever as the NHS moves towards a Personalised Care agenda with Health and Wellbeing at its centre.