FIH Applauds Announcement To Integrate NI Health Service

The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) has expressed support for the announcement made by Northern Ireland Health Minister Paul Goggins that plans are underway to offer patients access to complementary and alternative medicines through GPs and local Health Boards. The announcement, delivered during Mr Goggin’s speech at a CAM health conference in Belfast, also included plans to introduce FIH’s Integrated Health Associates scheme and Awards for Good Practice in Integrated Health across the country.

The first phase of the pilot scheme, which will be launched in January, invites GPs to bid for resources through their Health Board so they can offer patient direct referrals to complementary practitioners. Further details about funding will be provided to GPs by the Department in due course.

Ian Brownhill, FIH Programmes Director, said: “We are delighted that the Health Minister has made a strong commitment to integrated health in Northern Ireland through a new direct access pilot and two of our programmes. This is an important step forward to put patients back at the centre of their own care by offering a greater range of safe and effective treatments. 

“It is essential to keep GPs at the heart of the scheme, as it is through this relationship that people can make the right decisions about their health and wellbeing.”  

FIH’s Awards for Good Practice in Integrated Health have been recognising examples of best practice across England and Wales since 2001, and a book profiling the winners is due for publication later this month. Integrated Health Associates, a membership network for regulated health professionals working together to find new ways to deliver integrated health to patients, is due to launch across the rest of the UK at a conference on 21 November.

The launch of both initiatives are an important step in recognising Northern Ireland’s progress and driving forward the integrated health agenda.  

Mr Goggins said yesterday: “It is important that both the traditional and complementary sector work together to establish good working relationships and to share best practice. This will ensure that we move forward in the best interests of the patients, who are and must remain, at the centre of everything we do. I am committed to providing patients with the widest range of safe and effective means to get well, manage symptoms and stay healthy.”

FIH hopes that the success in Northern Ireland will influence integrated health services in the rest of the UK.

“At a time where some authorities are choosing to cut back on established integrated health services to make short term savings, with this announcement Northern Ireland is leading the way towards an improved health service for the 21st century,” Mr Brownhill added. “We are confident that the results we’ll see of these three initiatives will help demonstrate how beneficial integrated health can be for people.”

Details about all of FIH’s initiatives can be found on the website at