The first college of Medicine Foundation course in Integrated health last week brought home to me what I have believed in for over 30 years but which unfortunately convention in the NHS has moved further away from. That is, that the person is a single being, we are not a mind, a heart, a gut, a limb, we are so much more than that and as such, medical care needs to be looking at the whole person. Instead we now have consultants that are so super specialised such that one cardiologist even refers to another cardiologist for certain conditions.

So this 2 day course was like a breath of fresh air. It brought together a group of like minded individuals from the fields of medicine and complementary therapies to learn from each other. The speakers were some of the best in their fields and the energy in the room was one of mutual support and learning. We all came away with new tools whether it was use of a trigger point to relieve neck and back pain, or grating root ginger and Sri Lankan cinnamon as an infusion to ward off infection, self hypnosis or watching a traumatic memory disappear in a matter of seconds with Psy Tap.

I am mindful of the importance as a doctor of “first do no harm” but unfortunately as an NHS GP I have become more and more bound by evidence based medicine and NICE guidelines and over investigation through defensive medicine in a litigation minded society.

The NHS in it’s present form is clearly unsustainable and we need to find new ways or working. I feel the key is in empowering patients, in educating them about nutrition and exercise and getting them to take ownership of their health. The idea of social prescribing discussed by Dr Mike Dixon on day 2 has to be a way forward. Support is the key to health and has been demonstrated by the longevity of people in communities such as Japan, Greece, California, Costa Rica who do not always have access to health care but who have a holistic approach to community support, nutrition and prevention of disease.

Thank you to all the speakers and fellow delegates for an inspiring experience and lots of new learning.Thank you to the College of Medicine not only for recognising a need for truly integrated healthcare  but for recognising that the medical profession itself needs help and support.

I am looking forward to attending the conference on Sustainable Healthcare next week in seeking out a new model for high quality patient care.