Families across the UK are struggling to get the care they so desperately need. When there is no conventional treatment available to relieve symptoms or alleviate an illness, complementary care is often the only form of support people have. Essential oils have the potential to tap into the emotions, to heal and soothe the body, and promote spiritual connection. Aromatherapy can help create an atmosphere where the recipient can feel cared for, physically relaxed, less anxious, calm and restful and it also has the potential for a vital role in care and recovery programmes.
The UK’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world but resources are constantly overstrained by budget cuts. The demands put on staff mean fewer people want to work in this stressful environment. Our campaign is to get aromatherapy recognised mainstream by the NHS to support and improve the care available to the public and reduce the pressure on staff. There is a catalogue of evidence of how aromatherapy can assist in a variety of medical conditions e.g. back pain, which could save costs spent on ineffective medication with frequently negative side effects, prevent problems before they arise, assist in both recovery and rehabilitation and free up GPs' and nurses valuable time. Recent research, for example, has proved that essential oils diffused in waiting rooms, and other aromatherapy interventions in hospitals and hospices, significantly reduce the stress levels of staff and patients. However, there is still a cost attached to accessing these treatments which we believe should be freely available via the NHS.
Our two pronged strategy is:-
Support those in need
Reach out to those who are struggling after diagnosis by GPs/ consultants - in hospices, hospitals, during clinical interventions, or where no conventional treatment is offered to provide the help they need through our volunteer work and fundraising activities.
Raise awareness amongst the press and public of the role aromatherapy plays in combatting the build-up of stress and the onset of ill-health related issues (plus a catalogue of additional ailments), by promoting research evidencing its effectiveness, raising funds to invest in more research, together with expanding our portfolio of courses influencing and elevating future standards in aromatherapy and the public perception of treatments.
Aromatherapy is most associated with relieving stress, which directly and indirectly claims thousands of lives every year (every 2 hours a man takes his own life in the UK). By spreading the word of aromatherapy as a collective voice, and with your continued support, we can make even greater progress towards our goal.
Current Status of Aromatherapy and the NHS
The perception of aromatherapy by the medical profession is slowly evolving in a positive way. Since our ground-breaking work in the earlier years by first introducing aromatherapy into the NHS, aromatherapy has been accepted for licensing exemptions from district councils in London and beyond (first granted to IFA trained therapists in 1998), and there has been an increase in recognition by healthcare insurers and a change in perception by GPs and the General Medical Council.
A recent survey conducted by the Department of Health found that more than two thirds of doctors believe complementary and alternative therapies, including aromatherapy, should be made available for free on the NHS. According to The Foundation of Integrated Medicine, complementary medicine is now available through 10% of doctors' surgeries and alternative hospitals, and in addition some alternative remedies are also available on prescription.
Some of the popular press has recently discussed this issue and highlighted that health experts categorise alternative treatments; by those that are regulated by professional bodies and backed by scientific evidence, and those that are not. The need for aromatherapists to belong to a professional body such as the IFA is paramount to aromatherapy becoming increasingly accepted by the NHS. The trend in aromatherapy research being published has vastly increased in the last decade with websites such as pubmed publishing aromatherapy research and clinical trials on a weekly basis - testament to its beneficial effects. More funding, research and publicity of this work is needed.
What can the public do?
- Raise awareness through social media platforms
- Get involved with any surveys we may distribute
What can therapists do?
- Ensure you are registered and regulated by a professional body like the IFA
- Gain quality assured training and qualifications
- Submit Research Papers
- Submit Case Histories in publications like the Aromatherapy Times (with the consent of the client)
- Get involved with any surveys we may distribute
If your local practice is in favour of complementary medicine, we recommend that you contact them to make them aware of your services. The NHS has partly funded some surgeries to employ complementary and alternative therapists. In this instance treatments would be provided free to the public or clients referred were then be entitled to a reduced rate for a treatment. In some cases, doctors simply advise patients to see an alternative therapist, so ensure that when you write to your local surgery you explain your credentials so they fully understand the scope of training you have completed. For IFA registered therapists, templates can be downloaded from the members' area of the IFA website. If your local surgery does not offer complementary medicine it is likely that in the future it may do so make yourself known to them.
The IFA and its trained professionals are currently referred by the following healthcare charities and NHS hospitals:
- Alzheimers Society
- Brain Charity
- British Association of Skin Camouflage
- Cancer Research
- East Sussex hospital
Please note this list is not exhaustive.