King's Fund backs holistic cures

Mathew Little

A £1m programme to integrate complementary and alternative medicine into mainstream healthcare is to be launched by the King's Fund.

As part of a raft of changes to its grant programme, the health charity will support good practice that allows safe complementary approaches to be used alongside conventional techniques.

The grants, worth £250,000 annually over four years to organisations in London, build on the fund's £1m backing for the work of the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health in establishing effective regulation for complementary healthcare.

King's Fund chief executive Niall Dickson said: "With annual expenditure by the general public running at an estimated £1.6bn, there is now a need to consider how interventions with proven benefit can be brought into the mainstream of healthcare provision."

Further grants will be available from June under the new Partners for Health in London programme. These will focus on unmet health needs in mental and sexual health, and end-of-life care.

Over the next three years, half a million pounds will also be put aside for strategic funding, supporting capacity building and leadership development in health voluntary organisations.

However, the King's Fund's overall grant pot will drop from £1.8m this year to £1.65m in 2005/6, because of the effect of the stock market crash on the charity's endowment. Its small grants programme, for awards below £5,000, is to be abolished. The fund will be writing to grant-holders to inform them of the changes.

"We want to make the most of our charitable pounds," said Dickson.

FACT FILE

- New £1m grants programme to help increase choice of complementary medicine in mainstream healthcare

- Grants, available from June, will total £250,000 a year for the next four years

- £500,000 will be available to support capacity building in health charities in London.

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