The study found that half the GPs involved said they had been able to reduce prescribed medication and the same number that their patients needed less frequent referral to hospital.
Two-fifths of patients reported an improvement in symptoms, 81% said their general health had improved and 55% that they had been able to reduce their use of painkillers.
The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health was closely involved in setting up the trial, which was implemented by Get Well UK, a not-for-profit supplier of complementary healthcare.
It involved NHS GPs offering selected complementary therapies to two groups of patients: those with musculo-skeletal conditions and people with mild to moderate mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and stress.
The therapies included acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy, all administered by local practitioners. More than 700 patients took part.
Dr Michael Dixon, the foundation’s medical director, said: ‘Patients have clearly benefited – and so has the health service.
Reduced prescribing and less need for hospital treatment has saved NHS money.
‘All the GPs involved wanted to continue practising integrated healthcare with the option to refer their patients for complementary therapies.’
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