Hypnosis treatments could be used on a range of medical conditions to save the NHS millions of pounds, according to a group of medical experts.The Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) believe the therapies help relieve pain and stress. But it warned that patients need to be protected from rogue practitioners who cause harm and end up costing the NHS more.
Jacky Owens, the president of the RSM's Hypnosis Section, said: "Conditions such as depression, pain and irritable bowel syndrome affect millions of people in the UK and at great cost to the NHS. But hypnosis can often work where other treatments have been unsuccessful."
Ms Owens, a qualified nurse who uses hypnosis in her work with cancer patients, added: "If doctors were able to refer patients to properly trained hypnotherapists, it would save a cash-strapped NHS a great deal of money."
She said making hypnosis a standard part of the "NHS toolbox" would lead to the public becoming better informed about the procedure and mean that vulnerable patients would be less likely to turn to "hypno-cowboys".
Ms Owens added: "We're confident that with more research, hypnosis will be recognised as an extremely useful tool to be used alongside mainstream medicine. What we need are doctors, dentists, nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists, radiotherapists - the whole gamut of people who treat patients - trained in using hypnosis as another tool in their treatment programme."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We believe in patients being able to make informed choices about their treatment and in clinicians having the freedom to prescribe the treatment they feel most appropriate for that patient after discussing the risks and benefits.
"They should always consider the availability of a suitably qualified practitioner as part of this process.
"Our plans to modernise the NHS will give clinicians more freedom to commission the services that best meet their patients' needs."