MPs call on Government to encourage GPs to prescribe wellbeing therapies to reduce pressures on NHS

Today, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty and Wellbeing (the APPG), Chaired by Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, publishes recommendations for government following its inquiry into the value of the complementary therapies in supporting the nation’s health.  

Complementary therapies from massage, to reflexology and reiki can be crucial to supporting everyone’s physical health and mental wellbeing. However, the sector’s value is often overlooked. With the NHS being under escalating pressure, it is vital that the benefits of complementary therapies are taken account of by Government. 

Medical professionals could be better informed on the merits of these therapies and how they can refer patients through the use of social prescribing. This would both deliver better outcomes for patients, especially for those who experience chronic pain or mental health conditions, as well as helping ease up pressure on our struggling health system.  

Figures show that complementary therapy practices can lead to a 37% reduction in doctors’ visits. 

To ensure complementary therapies can adequately support the NHS, the skills gap must be addressed. We need to attract more talent into the sector and ensure all therapists receive the right training to become highly skilled professionals. 

We also need to increase the view of the professionalism of the sector so it is no longer seen as non-essential. Building understanding of its value in supporting our nation’s health, and cracking down on the underground market of poor treatment is crucial.  


The Group today makes key recommendations for Government including:  


  1. To work with NHS England to promote the benefits of social prescribing complementary therapy services  
  1. Provide greater financial incentives for employers to take on apprentices and learners to address the skills shortage  
  1. Give Environmental Health Officers greater powers to act quickly to deal with poor practice  


Co-Chairs of the APPG, Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, said:  

“It is clear that complementary therapies can have a huge impact on all of our physical and mental health and wellbeing. However the value of the sector is not being adequately recognised.”  

“Using social prescribing to offer complementary therapies through the NHS can provide life changing support for many with long-term health conditions, while taking pressure off our seriously overstretched healthcare system. 

Yet many medical professionals are unaware of the benefits of prescribing such therapies. Equally the skills gap faced by the sector means not enough highly trained professionals are available to support the NHS is this way. 

We hope the Government will review our recommendations in order to support the complementary therapies sector and improve the nation’s health.”  


This report is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. The views expressed in this report are those of the group. This report was researched by Dentons Global Advisors and funded by the National Hair and Beauty Federation, the Federation of Holistic Therapists and spabreaks.com.  


For more information, please contact the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty and Wellbeing, on appg-bawUK@dentonsglobaladvisors.com.