Friday, 1 November 2019

Integrative health Convention

I was grateful for the invitation to accompany Feona Gray, founder of Connecting Reiki with Medicine, to attend the Integrative Health Convention in London last month.  This convention is an   
opportunity for doctors and other NHS professionals to meet with a variety of complementary health practitioners.

I share Feona’s vision that Reiki could play an important part in healthcare:  I would love to see Reiki as a choice for patients alongside conventional care in the NHS, which is struggling to cope with the rising need and diminishing funding and staffing.  Reiki has the potential to be part of the solution. However when Feona first explored bringing Reiki into St George’s she learned that there was a very negative view of it, in fact it was banned in many hospitals.  In many situations Reiki is not trusted as a complementary therapy, so practitioners are not welcome.

I found that this convention gave me hope that my dreams of this changing, so that Reiki gains the respect needed for it to become integrated, could come true.  I met doctors who are not only open to complementary therapies including Reiki, but positively see the benefit.  Margaret Coats, from the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, commented to me at the end of the weekend that there had been a lot of talk about Reiki!

The keynote speaker was Dr Michael Dixon – a GP well known for his work in integrative health care.   He was one of the instigators of Social Prescribing, which may be one way that Reiki practitioners can receive referrals.  Dr Dixon noticed a 20% reduction in GP appointments once Social Prescribing was introduced in his area.  

He talked about conditions he and most GPs see frequently and often have nothing to offer to help: tiredness, back pain, IBS and stress.  11% of the population, he reported, are on medication for pain, depression stress or sleep problems. These are all things that complementary therapies, including Reiki, can help with.  He spoke strongly about the need for doctors to work together with complementary therapists.  He dismissed the assertion from some doctors that complementary therapies are not safe, giving the example that 2000 people die annually from anti-inflammatory drugs.  He also noted that GPs with an interest in complementary therapies prescribe 25% less antibiotics.  Given that 1 million people each year die from antibiotic resistant infections this is a significant difference.  Compered to this, complementary therapies are safe – and with no known contra indications of course Reiki is one of the safest – and will become even more so, he said, if doctors and complementary therapists communicate better with each other.  

What particularly excited me was his report that NHS England has recognised that “The future needs to be a future that empowers the patient”.  Taking responsibility for our own health and well being is a core value of Reiki practice, so fits perfectly with this approach.  I hope to see more professional Reiki practitioners, adequately prepared work alongside doctors and other health professionals, sharing the work of caring for those in our community who doctors struggle to help.  Connecting Reiki with Medicine’s project at St George’s Hospital, London is demonstrating how beneficial a professional team of Reiki practitioners can be, to patients and staff.  For this sort of project to be repeated around the country we need more practitioners who are willing to prepare for this work.

I would also like to see Social Prescribing include teaching people Reiki so that they can care for their health and have some useful tools to assist them towards a healthier and happier life.