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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Patient Cured Is A Customer Lost

I suffer from occasional lower back pain. It's nothing major and certainly not incapacitating in any way, but it's definitely something I could do without, so you can imagine my joy to hear that NICE, or the National Institute for Heath and Clinical Excelence as I always call them, are now recomending "a course of acupuncture needling up to a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks".

I can now get a 'treatment' that offers no quantifiable proof that it has any effect, positive or negative, on the NHS!

Now in case you're wondering who the hell this NICE mob actually are:

NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:
  • public health - guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention of ill health for those working in the NHS, local authorities and the wider public and voluntary sector
  • health technologies - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures within the NHS
  • clinical practice - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS.
Wow, they must really know what they're talking about, and if they say that sticking a steel needle in my earlobe will stop my back from hurting then who am I to argue . . .

. . . but argue I most certainly shall.

I would say that it behooves, and yes I did use the word 'behooves', an organisation that offers recomendations to healthcare 'professionals' to be 100% sure that there is a proovable benefit to any treatment that they champion.
Once we start down the alternative medicine route within the NHS you can bet that your tax bill is going to rise. It'll have to, how else are we going to pay for all the staff training and HR risk assessments in things like leeching, blood letting, crystal therapy and the suchlike.
Now I don't know about you, but I've managed pretty well up til now without having my 'Chi' alligned or my energivistic state altered.

Did someone say Placebo?
Yes please, they're a great band!


Jaggy said...

Cupping is my favourite bullshit remedy.

You may as well have been prescribed Benylin as your back cure, at least that placebo is painless and tastes not bad.

Steve said...

"a 'treatment' that offers no quantifiable proof that it has any effect, positive or negative, on the NHS" - trouble is, Inchy, given the ineffectiveness of most antibiotics these days that statement could be true of a lot of treatments that the NHS offers. As for acupuncture... I'm still openminded about it. I've heard a lot of anecdotal evidence from friends and work colleagues - some as sceptical as you - that it actually worked. If a placebo actually works does that mean it should be devalued?

Inchy said...

Steve, if a placebo actually works then there's clearly an underlying psychological problem.

If someone sayd that dried frog pills cure their insomnia then should a doctor continue to prescribe dried frog pills ad infinitum, or should he get to the root of the problem?

And where do you draw the line? I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who swear blind that their condition has been helped/cured by prayer or reiki or animal sacrifice, so should we offer them on the NHS?

The Demon tried acupuncture recently in an attempt to control her tinitus. Afterwards, she claimed to experience a reduction in her condition, but here we are a few weeks later and she now concedes that it did bugger all.

I'm like Horatio Caine, I follow the evidence.

Steve said...

Animal sacrifice... hmm... apparently our forefathers swore by it... might be worth a go...