NHS accused of endorsing quackery after advertising for energy healer

NHS is accused of ‘endorsing quackery’ after posting job ad for a Japanese energy healer who will treat cancer patients alongside chemo

  • Reiki healers supposedly ‘activate the healing process’ with ‘energy principles’
  • Experts described the NHS endorsing the dubious practice as ‘frankly appalling’ 
  • NHS England admitted there is ‘no scientific evidence’ to support the use of reiki

The NHS has been slammed for recruiting a Japanese energy healer despite there being no evidence to support the practice.

The band four role — which pays up to £26,000 — will see the successful candidate ‘activate the healing process’ in cancer patients with ‘energy principles’.

It involves using reiki, a mystic belief that healers can channel energy and cure conditions through their palms.

The practice is popular among several Hollywood stars, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Angelina Jolie.

The unfilled vacancy was posted to job boards by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

But NHS England has admitted there is ‘no scientific evidence’ to support employing reiki.

Experts railed against the health service for endorsing the ‘quackery in the midst of a funding crisis’, describing it as ‘frankly appalling’.

The role is being funded by the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust, a charity that trains ‘healers’ to offer reiki alongside other NHS treatments.

It previously backed a role at a cancer unit in Lincolnshire that was advertised during the height of the Covid pandemic.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is advertising a reiki healer role that requires they  ‘activate the healing process’ with ‘energy principles’

Pronounced ‘ray-key’, Reiki, which means ‘universal energy’ in Japanese, is a type of complementary therapy in which a practitioner puts their hands lightly on or near your body.

It is a Japanese healing art that was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century.

One of the main aims is to help you relax and ease stress and tension by changing and balancing the ‘energy fields’ in and around your body to help on a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual level.

Some people with cancer may use Reiki alongside their treatment and some people say they feel better after using therapies such as Reiki.

There are no reports of harmful side effects of Reiki, though there is no scientific evidence to show that Reiki can prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease.

However some healthcare professionals accept Reiki as a complementary therapy which may help lower stress, promote relaxation and reduce pain.

Source: Cancer Research UK 

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is advertising the new role as a band four job that can be paid up to £26,282 per year. 

The advert says: ‘The responsibilities of a reiki healer include treating clients using energy principles, preparing clients’ medical histories, and activating the healing process.

‘To be successful as a reiki healer, a person requires a calm demeanour, good team working skills, and excellent customer service skills.’ 

The healer will work on cancer patients at Manchester Royal Infirmary’s palliative care department.

They will see up to six patients a shift, including people suffering with terminal illness. 

Healers are told to use an ’empathetic, client-centred approach that focuses on the strengths and the needs of the patient’. 

The advert says: ‘This may include handling sensitive information regarding the patient’s health or social situation.’

Reiki practitioners move their hands over a person’s body, supposedly transferring ‘healing energy’ to areas linked to different ailments.

Experts slammed the trust for introducing the ‘debunked’ alternative therapy, that does little more than provide the placebo effect. 

Professor Edzard Ernst, chair of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, told MailOnline: ‘It is hard to think of an alternative therapy that is less plausible than reiki. 

‘It has been debunked many times and does not work beyond placebo. 

‘That the NHS should [endorse] such quackery in the midst of a funding crisis is frankly appalling.’

Michael Marshall, project director of the anti-pseudo science charity Good Thinking Society, said reiki is ‘completely anti-scientific’.

He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘There are no energy fields around the human body that can be manipulated by reiki practitioners or by anybody else.

‘That’s not how the human body works and the NHS shouldn’t be endorsing it, even indirectly via a charity, because it can lead to some people being put in harm’s way.’

Mr Marshall said patients can get the same emotional support provided by reiki healers elsewhere without having to deal with someone ‘who believes in magic’.

The NHS admitted there is no scientific backing for providing reiki on the health service 

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘There is no scientific evidence to support the use of reiki as an effective clinical treatment on the NHS.’

But Angie Buxton-King, co-funder of the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust, insisted there is ‘lots of patient evidence which the NHS is very keen on’.

Mrs Buxton-King, who started the charity after her son Sam died of leukemia in 1998 at the age of 10, said NHS trusts see hiring reiki practitioners as a ‘no brainer’.

The therapy is offered as complimentary medicine, rather than alternative, meaning it does not replace traditional therapies.

She said reiki is ‘very well thought of’ by hospitals that have been using it since 2006.

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