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COMPLEMENTARY & ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Peter Hain is an advocate of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In his book "Outside In" he explains that his first son, Sam,  was born with eczema, later developing asthma as well. Conventional medicine did not sort the problems out so the Hains turned to complementary medicine. With the help of homeopathy and restricting what their son ate, including avoiding gluten and milk products, the problems went away. As a result of this, Peter Hain says he became a regular user of complementary medicine himself. Such is Hain's faith in complementary medicine that he himself used such remedies for malaria and yellow fever in visits to Africa, and he also relates how his private secretary was cured of shingles by a herbalist in Ireland, when conventional treatment had been ineffective.

Both as Secretary of State for Wales and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain had various dealings with Prince Charles. One of Prince Charles' well publicised interests is the promotion of complementary and alternative medicine, CAM.

In his book Peter Hain refers to a comprehensive study into alternative therapies, published in 2005, by a leading economist named Chris Smallwood. It actually turns out that this study was commissioned by Prince Charles himself. In 1993 Prince Charles had set up the Foundation for Integrated Health, a body set up to promote complementary and alternative medicine in the UK.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4312780.stm

The funding for the Smallwood study allegedly came from Dame Shirley Porter.

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2010/04/dame-shirley-porter-funded-prince-charles-political-report-on-nhs-alternative-medicine.html

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/mar/24/politicalbooks.biography

This study was not a scientific paper and it has come under severe criticism from several well known critics of CAM. Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet said about it: "Let's be clear: this report contains dangerous nonsense".

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/oct/06/health.uknews1

Peter Hain said on 12 October 2005 in his speech to the Foundation GP Associates (another Prince Charles initiative, setting up a new supportive network for doctors who believe complementary therapies can work alongside conventional medicine) that he "applauds its (the Smallwood Report's) initiatives not least because the growing popularity of such treatments is ultimately down to the fact that they deliver real benefits". He said, “It is important to stress that this report is not some lightweight puff-piece for complementary healthcare. It is a serious piece of research, written by a hard-headed economist with a tough-minded and independent approach. It demands to be taken seriously.” On the other hand, he also stressed that he "would certainly never advocate the squandering of public money on so-called treatments that have no proven benefits …"

http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/556/news/3894

The Foundation for Integrated Health was closed down in April 2010 following a fraud and money laundering inquiry involving one of its Directors.

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2010/04/princes-foundation-for-integrated-health-closes.html

Another organisation soon sprang up called the College of Medicine, which contained senior figures from the Foundation for Integrated Health.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/02/prince-charles-college-medicine-holistic-complementary

http://www.collegeofmedicine.org.uk/about-college-medicine

It has an Advisory Council "which includes eminent people with distinguished careers in fields from medicine and nursing to politics and international development. They provide strategic advice and make sure the College stays rooted in evidence, good science and best practice." Peter Hain is listed on their website as one of the eleven members of the Advisory Council.

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Peter Hain is on record as saying that Prince Charles encouraged him to press the Welsh Government to introduce complementary medicine on the NHS. Mr Hain said they had discussed it when he first became Welsh Secretary: "He had been constantly frustrated at his inability to persuade any health ministers anywhere that that was a good idea, and so he, as he once described it to me, found me unique from this point of view, in being somebody that actually agreed with him on this, and might want to deliver it.

"When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2005-07, he was delighted when I told him that since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do.


"I was able to introduce a trial for complementary medicine on the NHS, and it had spectacularly good results, that people's well-being and health was vastly improved.

"And when he learnt about this he was really enthusiastic and tried to persuade the Welsh government to do the same thing and the government in Whitehall to do the same thing for England, but not successfully,"
added Mr Hain.
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However in his book "Outside In" Peter Hain also makes the following statement:

"I unsuccessfully tried as a Welsh Minister in 1997-9 and then as Secretary of State for Wales from 2002, to persuade Welsh Labour Health Ministers to advance the cause"

"Frustrated at resistance from government colleagues and officials, my opportunity to do something came in Northern Ireland when I was Secretary of State between 2005 and 2007 and quite literally in charge of everything there. For the first and only time in twelve years as a Government minister, I had the power to integrate complementary and conventional medicine within the NHS."


Clearly there seems to have been common interest and cause between Prince Charles and Peter Hain in this case, Prince Charles evidently pushing at an open door.

Hain then agreed to set up a £200K alternative therapy study whereby GPs could treat their patients using such methods. Professor David Colquhoun, a well known British pharmacologist who writes on the danger of the alternative medicine industry pointed out that the project was a farce:

http://www.dcscience.net/?p=33

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Paul Goggins MP (now deceased), the Health Minister for Northern Ireland, spent his second day in post at an event hosted by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain MP, held at Hillsborough Castle in May 2006. It was the annual garden party held by the Secretary of State and had a theme of complementary and alternative medicine and played host to Prince Charles and many of the leading practitioners of complementary medicine from Northern Ireland. Some professional organisations and regulatory bodies such as the General Osteopathic Council also attended.

It was agreed to take an integrated medicine trial forward in the Province.

A steering group was established which organised a conference on 5th October 2006. Speakers from different disciplines outlined to an audience of health professionals, the training, standards and evidence of some complementary therapies. Paul Goggins attended and announced the £200K fund to pilot complementary therapies for NHS patients, and a commitment to making these therapies available to everyone in Northern Ireland if the pilot proved to be successful. Success, in this case, meant improvements in health and reductions in NHS costs.

http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/ministers_speech_seminar.pdf

The "trial" was independently audited and evaluated, as arranged by the DHSSPS. However this evaluation was carried out by a market research company called SMR, not a medical body. A more critical report of this CAM project and its "evaluation" is linked to below:

http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2009/02/northern-ireland-nhs-alternative.html

Notwithstanding the "spectacularly good results" and "that people's well-being and health was vastly improved", as Peter Hain has stated about the trial, it does not appear that it was ever then adopted as standard practice - even in Northern Ireland where Hain has said "since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do".
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In December 2013 the British Acupuncture Council announced that Peter Hain MP had agreed to become the British Acupuncture Council’s second patron.

http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/jnews/mailing/view/7/52/1/999.html

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Peter Hain appears on a new 2014 website that appears to have been set up by, or in conjunction with, the British Homeopathic Association. He is one of a number of well known celebrities being used to promote homeopathy.

http://www.celebhomeopathy.com/peterhain.htm

He states:

"I have used homeopathy for a wide variety of illnesses, but I rely on Arnica as it’s excellent for treating the everyday bruises and shocks to the system we face.

My view is that homeopathy and conventional medicines must remain side by side under the NHS to offer the best to patients".

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