The very first NHS approved training school in the UK has been launched in Harrogate, to offer training in complementary therapies to help people with a diagnosis of cancer.

NHS Natural Health School is based at Harrogate District Hospital’s Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, and provides a range of courses at different grades and for different levels of experience.

The School is committed to training the ‘Next Generation of Complementary Therapy Experts’ able to meet the complex needs of an increasing number of patients; by 2030 it is expected one in two of us will have/had a diagnosis of cancer.

The School has been created in response to mainstream or conventional complementary therapy services frequently being unavailable to cancer patients due to the stigma associated with their condition. Very few places in the UK will provide complementary therapy treatments for people with cancer, yet the physical and emotional benefits can be huge.

Courses range from Level 3 ITEC diploma courses in Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Holistic Massage. The core skills taught are not specific to patients with cancer, and can be applied to any person wishing to have that treatment. The school also offers Continuing Professional Development and short courses in Palliative Care, Daoyin Tao, Pain Management, the Bowen Technique, and Self-Care to name but a few.

A unique ‘NHS Certificate in Complementary Therapies’ has also been created for Complementary Therapists qualified at Level 3 who wish to develop their skills and practice with cancer patients to the standards required by NHS organisations.

This course focuses on clinical governance and the mandatory training required to work safely in a clinical environment. Unlike any other training currently available, students will be required to achieve set competencies during 100 hours of clinically supervised practice within healthcare settings. There are also assignments for delegates to complete outside of the classroom.

Sarah Grant, Health and Wellbeing Manager at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, said: “We care for patients with cancer day in, day out, and we know how much of a positive difference complementary therapies can make at such a very tough time.

“During the past four years, we have collected clinical and anecdotal evidence which demonstrate categorically the positive and considerable impact Complementary Therapy can have while patients face the varying and often debilitating treatments and surgeries associated with cancer. We know therapies alleviate pain, reduce stress and combat anxiety. We also know that during these treatments patients do talk openly and candidly about their challenges.

Full details of the courses offered by the NHS Natural Health School can be found by visiting nhsnaturalhealthschool.co.uk.