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A new trend towards multi-bed acupuncture clinics in the UK is widening access and increasing affordability.
A new trend towards multi-bed acupuncture clinics in the UK is widening access and increasing affordability, according to the largest group of health professions practising acupuncture, the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP).
A multi-bed acupuncture clinic is where more than one patient is treated in the same room during a typical one hour appointment, with the aim of making the treatment more affordable.
Acupuncture treatment in the UK is predominantly provided to a single patient in a private room by a practitioner who remains there throughout.
In China, by contrast, patients have been treated together for centuries in large rooms containing several beds with one practitioner able to treat several patients at the same time.
Acupuncture is ideally suited to this more cost-effective method of treatment delivery as needles usually have to be left in the body for around 30 minutes. During this time as the patient rests the practitioner is free to treat another patient.
A private room for taking initial case history and availability to discuss any personal issues concerning treatment meets the need for patient dignity and confidentiality.
The first well-established multi-clinic in the UK was the Gateway Clinic, located in the grounds of Lambeth Hospital, London. Founded in 1990, the clinic is funded by the National Health Service’s Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Primary Care Trust.
The trend is now growing with 13 new independent multi-bed clinics established in the UK since 2004 and more expected in the next year.
Reduced rates are charged as a result of treating more than one patient at the same time, typically a fixed rate averaging only £15.
The patients benefit from affordable professional treatment accessed with the frequency and duration that means they get better and stay better.
 Jennie Longbottom, Chair of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), says,
“The growing number of multi-bed acupuncture clinics across the UK makes treatment more affordable and a wider range of patients can benefit from the reduced cost of treatment.
“Far from complaining about a loss of privacy, patients actually like to share their experience in a communal setting.
“The acupuncturist practitioners find working in the new clinics to be both stimulating and supportive for their professional skills.
“Typically, a multi-bed acupuncture clinic is increasing its reach into the community, with increased number of clients and the satisfaction of providing treatment that is more accessible.”
Charlotte Stone, who practices acupuncture in a multi-bed clinic in Brighton and is author of a new paper on the subject, says
“By reducing the cost of treatments, patients are able to have acupuncture frequently enough and for long enough to properly get better and stay better.
“If acupuncture in the UK is only provided in private, high cost clinics in a one-to-one format, it will only ever be available to a limited, affluent section of our community; someone less well off will have to make real sacrifices to get the treatment they need.
“It’s time to make acupuncture more accessible for people who need it.”
For more information on acupuncture, see (Photo: body model courtesy of Acupuncture Direct)


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