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MPs raise inquiry into value of complementary therapies

A cross-party group of MPs is exploring how complementary therapies can support health in a post-pandemic society

UK

By Wendy Golledge

16 November 2022

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A cross-party group of MPs has launched an investigation into the importance of complementary therapies in supporting physical and mental health as well as wellbeing and taking pressure off the NHS.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty and Wellbeing (APPG BAW), co-chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, is exploring how complementary therapies can support health, in particular now that the pandemic changed demand for these services.

As well as investigating the influence of complementary practices on personal and societal health, the group will also evaluate the skills gaps facing the industry, consider how to ensure the viability of businesses and jobs, and review potential government interventions to support the sector’s future.

The group has called for written evidence to better understand:

  • the value the sector brings to the UK’s economy and society
  • how complementary treatments can play a preventative role in supporting health and wellbeing
  • how complementary therapies can support those with existing health conditions
  • how the NHS and the complementary therapy sector can better integrate
  • the skills gap facing the industry
  • how to ensure the long-term growth of the sector
  • how to ensure those that work in it are able to make a good wage.
A parliamentary group is currently collating evidence on the use of complementary therapies | ©Temple Spa

During the summer, MPs invited sector experts to give oral evidence. Having collected further written evidence, the APPG will present a Call to Action on Government with recommendations for how to support the sector’s future.

A statement from Harriss and Cummins said: “Great steps have been made to secure the beauty industry greater recognition in government, however the value of complementary therapies in supporting everyone’s health is not being adequately recognised.

“Treatments such as massage can play a vital role in helping those with long-term health conditions manage symptoms. Equally, highly trained complementary therapists can play a preventative role in helping identifying health conditions in their clients.

“With our NHS under increasing pressure, it is more important than ever that the benefits of complementary therapies are recognised.”

Helping to reduce mental health problems

In 2021, the British Beauty Council worked with advocacy groups and trade bodies to publish a report on the effects of personal care services on mental health and wellbeing.

It found that introducing more personal care services like massage and touch therapy into society could reduce mental health problems in the population by around 10 per cent.

The report stated: “Qualified therapists within the sector are well placed to support the NHS and Public Health to relieve issues and symptoms relating to Functional neurological disorders (FND) and physical health and wellbeing through a range of therapies, improved self-care and preventative healthcare.”

It also recommended the industry accelerate the development of higher-level qualifications to up-skill the workforce and improve the support of mental health and wellbeing.

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