Christian Prayer 1 of 16 alternative treatments at Whanganui Hospital

Christian prayer and traditional Maori healing are to be offered at Whanganui Hospital as part of a natural therapy service.

Sixteen alternative treatments are being provided on a roster basis. Providers have been police-vetted and will go through a thorough induction when the service is launched next week.

The move has been described as a “seriously stupid decision” by Whanganui District Health Board member, Michael Laws. He says that it “hasn’t gone anywhere near the DHB board table”.

Victoria University biology sciences professor Shaun Holt says the therapies being offered were a “strange mix”. “Meditation and massage great – the others not so.”

He said there was no evidence-based research on reiki, Christian prayer and Maori healing being useful.

“What annoys me with things like this is there are lots of useful complementary therapies out there that they could be offering – yoga, tai chi, herbal supplements, even acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine, that are all evidence-based.”

He described reiki – which involves the practitioner placing their hands lightly on the body, supposedly allowing a free flow of universal energy – as “witchcraft”.

Emergency department specialist Chris Cresswell, who helped set up the service, said the alternative therapies would complement conventional treatments.

“There is good research out there that lots of alternative therapies do have a lot of good to offer. I think our society has matured and people are more open-minded,” he said



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