College of Medicine born from ashes of Prince Charles’s holistic health charity | Alternative medicine

Senior figures at the Prince of Wales’s complementary health charity, which closed amid a criminal investigation this year, are opening a college to promote holistic medicine in the NHS.

The College of Medicine aims to raise the acceptance of “an integrated approach to health” among doctors, politicians and the public by running courses and publishing books, journals and films.

Doctors who endorse integrated medicine believe it improves patients’ wellbeing by considering their beliefs and personal circumstances and helping them look after their own health. The approach is controversial because some practitioners use complementary therapies, such as homeopathy, alongside conventional medicine.

The establishment of the college has dismayed scientists who believe there is scant evidence that complementary medicines work and that taxpayers should not be funding such treatments

The four directors of the college are former fellows or directors of the prince’s charity, the Foundation for Integrated Health, which shut in April after Scotland Yard began a fraud and money-laundering inquiry. Police later charged the charity’s finance director, George Gray, with theft totalling £253,000. None of the directors of the new college have been accused of wrongdoing in the investigation.

Registration documents filed at Companies House and other details of the college were obtained by David Colquhoun, a professor of pharmacology at University College London and critic of alternative medicine. They are published today on his website,

One director of the college is Michael Dixon, a GP in Cullompton, Devon, who was formerly medical director of the Foundation for Integrated Health. The others are George Lewith, who runs a complementary medicine unit at Southampton University; David Peters, the chairman of the British Holistic Medical Association; and Christine Glover, a holistic health consultant. All are former fellows of the prince’s charity.

Dixon’s surgery lists alternative therapies including one called “frequencies of brilliance” which, according to its Australian founder, works in extra dimensions of space. Dixon does not practice any alternative medicine himself.

The College of Medicine had been registered as the College for Integrated Health, but documents at Companies House show the name was changed after a teleconference between the directors a week after the prince’s charity shut. A promotional slide show for the College of Integrated Health said it was “a new strategy to take forward the vision of HRH Prince Charles,” adding: “It is the evolution of his Foundation for Integrated Health’s work to date.”

A Clarence House spokesperson said the Prince of Wales was aware of the institution, but “has not been involved with setting-up the college, is not launching it and has no official role with it”.

Some scientists say greater availability of complementary medicines on the NHS could put patients at risk. “It is the constant claim of alternative medicine enthusiasts that only they appreciate the caring side of medicine. That is simply not true,” said Colquhoun.

“If I’m ill, I want above all to be cured. I don’t want to be given magic beans and left to die. However caring the treater may be, the treatment fails if I’m not cured.”

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, said: “I fear that the College of Medicine will amount to little more than a smokescreen and a farce.” He feared courses being planned could be about “popularising disproven or unproven treatments within UK healthcare”.

Last week, ministers rejected calls from the Commons science and technology select committee to withdraw homeopathic remedies from the NHS. Decisions on funding homeopathy will continue to be left with GPs and primary care trusts.

Tracey Brown of the Sense about Science charity claimed the college’s emphasis on merging conventional medicine with unproven complementary therapies “would take society back a century”.

“Despite its mission to promote the integration of alternatives to medicine, this new body has chosen to call itself very grandly the College of Medicine. Perhaps someone thinks this will sound good with Royal in front of it? This wouldn’t be a surprise given the institution’s origins in the Prince of Wales’s efforts to integrate his favoured traditional remedies into medicine.”

The Guardian approached the college’s directors for comment. A spokeswoman said that raising awareness of alternative therapies would only be part of what the college would be offering. There would be no further public statements ahead of its opening in the autumn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *