Health & Lifestyle

NHS accused of ‘endorsing quackery’ after advertising for a Japanese 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 health bosses admitting there is no evidence to support the practice.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust is advertising for a ‘spiritual healer/reiki therapist’ — with the band four role paying up to £26,000.

The job ad says the successful candidate will ‘activate the healing process’ in cancer patients by harnessing ‘energy principles’.

Experts told MailOnline the health service appeared to be endorsing ‘quackery in the midst of a funding crisis”.

Reiki is an ancient Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation and healing. Healers claim they do this by channeling through their palms into patients.

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

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

But NHS England has admitted there is ‘no scientific evidence’ to support the practice.

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

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

The job ad closes on August 25 and pays 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.

The Japanese therapy that harnesses ‘energy’: What is Reiki and does it really work? 

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 

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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, claiming it 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-pseudoscience 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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