I HAVE huge respect and admiration for medical science – it is that, after all, that is keeping me alive. Evidence-based clinical practice is crucial to the advancement of treatments. Our NHS is built upon effective and proven treatments to benefit patients.

And yet there is universal agreement among clinicians that the state of mind of a cancer patient also has a profound and significant impact on the effectiveness of treatment and quality of life experienced.

Staying positive in the face of cancer is like having a home crowd in your corner – it really can deliver tangible benefits. This can’t be measured through medical science or clinical trials. It is, however, accepted by the medics who swear by evidence-based medicine as an undisputed fact.

When I was communications director for NHSGGC, I was intimately involved with the issue of funding for Scotland’s only dedicated NHS Centre for Integrative Care (CIC). The majority of leading medical voices were against diverting core NHS funds to it because it wasn’t scientifically proven effective. The end result saw the removal of inpatient beds, fewer staff and less financial resource.

But now we have Covid-19 and while vaccines are proving effective at reducing hospital admissions and death rates, the issues of so-called “long Covid” are worryingly worsening.

It’s estimated about 6,000 people in Scotland suffered from the “long, stubborn debilitating disease” that is long Covid after the first wave of the pandemic. But there is precious little in the way of research or effective intervention or treatment available to help them, apart from a sympathetic ear from hard-pressed GPs.

There is, however, growing evidence that the integrated care approach delivered to many ME sufferers in the UK can also be effective for long Covid. The NHS in England is so convinced of this it has invested in specialist integrated health hubs. We haven’t followed suit yet. The Friends of NHS CIC are urging NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government to make better use of the award-winning Glasgow centre (friendscic.org/media).

A review published in the Nursing Times concludes that “looking forward, we need to offer a holistic, integrated approach rather than symptom-by-symptom management”.

A few years ago, the NHS board in Glasgow considered pleas from patients that they could find no realistic alternative to the care they received at the CIC. Despite this the inpatient beds and funding were cut but the centre was allowed to continue, albeit at a reduced capacity.

As we now find out there remains a lot more to learn about long Covid so there are compelling reasons to reinvest and allow for non-conventional science and clinical thinking to work hand in glove with acute medicine to meet these new challenges and existing challenges that don’t sit neatly on the acute medicine menu.

Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. See www.mclawsconsultancy.com