The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health

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The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health (FIH) was a charity run by King Charles III (then Prince of Wales) founded in 1993. The foundation promoted complementary and alternative medicine, preferring to use the term "integrated health", and lobbied for its inclusion in the National Health Service. The charity closed in 2010 after allegations of fraud and money laundering led to the arrest of a former official.



The charity was established in 1993 to explore "how safe, proven complementary therapies can work in conjunction with mainstream medicine". [1]

Michael Dixon was appointed the foundation's medical director. From 2005 to 2007, FIH received a grant from the Department of Health to help organise the self-regulation of complementary therapies. There had been concern that with a large proportion of the public turning to complementary approaches, there were few safeguards in place to ensure that non-statutorily regulated therapists were safe, trained and would act in an appropriate way. FIH worked to bring together the representative bodies of many complementary professions to talk and agree standards. [2] The result was the formation of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) which had hoped to register 10,000 practitioners of complementary medicine by the end of 2009 but which by September 2009 had succeeded in enrolling less than a tenth of that number due to lack of interest on the part of some of their professional associations. The Department of Health is currently continuing to fund the CNHC but future funding will be dependent on substantial progress being made towards the target (which has now been reduced to 2,000). Alternative medicine campaigners argued that the move toward regulation conferred undue respectability on unproven and possibly unsafe complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) approaches.

FIH also worked with medical schools to increase the understanding of complementary approaches amongst new doctors and ran an annual awards ceremony for integrated health schemes both within the medical world and in the community.

The papers of the Foundation for Integrated Health are held at the Wellcome Library, Archives and Manuscripts, and are available for consultation by appointment. Further details about the collection can be found on the Wellcome online catalogue. [3]


The Prince of Wales has demonstrated an interest in alternative medicine, the promotion of which has occasionally resulted in controversy. [4] In 2004, the foundation divided the scientific and medical community over its campaign encouraging general practitioners to offer herbal and other alternative treatments to National Health Service patients, [5] [6] and in May 2006, The Prince made a speech to an audience of health ministers from various countries at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, urging them to develop a plan for integrating conventional and alternative medicine. [7]

In April 2008, The Times published a letter from Professor Edzard Ernst that asked the Prince's Foundation to recall two guides promoting "alternative medicine", saying: "the majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective, and many are downright dangerous." A speaker for the foundation countered the criticism by stating: "We entirely reject the accusation that our online publication Complementary Healthcare: A Guide contains any misleading or inaccurate claims about the benefits of complementary therapies. On the contrary, it treats people as adults and takes a responsible approach by encouraging people to look at reliable sources of information... so that they can make informed decisions. The foundation does not promote complementary therapies." [8] In June 2008 Ernst and science writer Simon Singh book Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial was published. It is ironically dedicated to "HRH the Prince of Wales" and the last chapter is highly critical of his advocacy of "complementary" and "alternative" treatments. [9]

The Prince's Duchy Originals have produced a variety of CAM products including a “Detox Tincture” that Ernst has denounced as "financially exploiting the vulnerable" and "outright quackery". [10] In May 2009, the Advertising Standards Authority criticised an email that Duchy Originals had sent out to advertise its Echina-Relief, Hyperi-Lift and Detox Tinctures products saying it was misleading. [11]

In Ernst's book More Good Than Harm? The Moral Maze of Complementary and Alternative Medicine he and ethicist Kevin Smith call Charles "foolish and immoral" and state that "it is not possible to practice alternative medicine ethically". Ernst said the Prince's private secretary contacted the vice chancellor of Exeter University to investigate Ernst's complaints against the "Smallwood Report", commissioned by the prince in 2005. Ernst said he was found not guilty, but that "all local support at Exeter stopped, which eventually led to my early retirement." [12]


Between 2005 and 2007 the charity's annual turnover was about £1.2 million. [13] In 2007 it received significant funding from The Prince's Charities Foundation, and a £300,000 grant from the Department of Health for the regulation of complementary medicine. [14]

Lobbying allegations

The Prince personally wrote at least seven letters [15] to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) shortly before they relaxed the rules governing labelling of herbal products such as the ones sold by his duchy, a move that has been widely condemned by scientists and medical bodies. [16]

On 31 October 2009 it was reported that the Prince had personally lobbied Health Secretary Andy Burnham regarding greater provision of alternative treatments on the NHS. [10]

Charity Commission complaint

In March 2010, the political organisation Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, registered a complaint with the Charity Commission for England and Wales over a possible breach of charity regulations, suggesting that the foundation's staff had pursued a public vendetta against Ernst. [17]

Fraud allegations and closure

In 2010, following accounting irregularities noted by the foundation's auditor, it was reported that the Metropolitan Police Economic and Specialist Crime Command had begun an inquiry into alleged fraud.[ citation needed ] Within weeks, two former officials at the Prince's Foundation were arrested for fraud believed to total £300,000. [1] [18] Four days later, on 30 April 2010, the foundation announced [19] that it would close. The foundation stated that its closure was the result of the fraud allegations. [20]

The charity's finance director, accountant George Gray, was convicted of theft totalling £253,000 and sentenced to three years in prison. [21] [22]

Rebranding as "The College of Medicine"

Following the disbanding of the Prince's Foundation, many of the individuals and organisations involved launched a new organisation in late 2010 called The College of Medicine, with which the Prince of Wales was not overtly involved. Several commentators writing in The Guardian and The British Medical Journal, have expressed the opinion that the new organisation is simply a re-branding of the Prince's Foundation, [21] [23] [24] [25] [26] describing it as "Hamlet without the Prince". [27]

In support of this connection with the then Prince, alternative medicine critic and pharmacologist David Colquhoun has argued that the college (originally called "The College of Integrated Health") is extremely well-funded [28] and seemed from the beginning to be very confident of the Prince's support; explicitly describing its mission as "to take forward the vision of HRH the Prince of Wales". [29]

These claims have been contested by the college. [30]

Related Research Articles

Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine despite lacking biological plausibility, testability, repeatability or evidence of effectiveness. Unlike modern medicine, which employs the scientific method to test plausible therapies by way of responsible and ethical clinical trials, producing repeatable evidence of either effect or of no effect, alternative therapies reside outside of medical science and do not originate from using the scientific method, but instead rely on testimonials, anecdotes, religion, tradition, superstition, belief in supernatural "energies", pseudoscience, errors in reasoning, propaganda, fraud, or other unscientific sources. Frequently used terms for relevant practices are New Age medicine, pseudo-medicine, unorthodox medicine, holistic medicine, fringe medicine, and unconventional medicine, with little distinction from quackery.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Homeopathy</span> Pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine

Homeopathy or homoeopathy is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine. It was conceived in 1796 by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Its practitioners, called homeopaths, believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure similar symptoms in sick people; this doctrine is called similia similibus curentur, or "like cures like". Homeopathic preparations are termed remedies and are made using homeopathic dilution. In this process, the selected substance is repeatedly diluted until the final product is chemically indistinguishable from the diluent. Often not even a single molecule of the original substance can be expected to remain in the product. Between each dilution homeopaths may hit and/or shake the product, claiming this makes the diluent "remember" the original substance after its removal. Practitioners claim that such preparations, upon oral intake, can treat or cure disease.

Magnetic therapy is a pseudoscientific alternative medicine practice involving the weak static magnetic field produced by a permanent magnet which is placed on the body. It is similar to the alternative medicine practice of electromagnetic therapy, which uses a magnetic field generated by an electrically powered device. Magnet therapy products may include wristbands, jewelry, blankets, and wraps that have magnets incorporated into them.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles III</span> King of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms since 2022

Charles III is King of the United Kingdom and the 14 other Commonwealth realms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Craniosacral therapy</span> Pseudoscientific alternative medicine technique

Craniosacral therapy (CST) or cranial osteopathy is a form of alternative medicine that uses gentle touch to feel non-existent rhythmic movements of the skull's bones and supposedly adjust the immovable joints of the skull to achieve a therapeutic result. CST is a pseudoscience and its practice has been characterized as quackery. It is based on fundamental misconceptions about the anatomy and physiology of the human skull and is promoted as a cure-all for a variety of health conditions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">University of Buckingham</span> Private university in Buckinghamshire, UK

The University of Buckingham (UB) is a non-profit private university in Buckingham, England and the oldest of the country's six private universities. It was founded as the University College at Buckingham (UCB) in 1973, admitting its first students in 1976. It was granted university status by royal charter in 1983.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quackwatch</span> American alternative medicine watchdog website

Quackwatch is a United States-based website, self-described as a "network of people" founded by Stephen Barrett, which aims to "combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct" and to focus on "quackery-related information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere". Since 1996 it has operated the alternative medicine watchdog website, which advises the public on unproven or ineffective alternative medical remedies. The site contains articles and other information criticizing many forms of alternative medicine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edzard Ernst</span> German academic physician and researcher (born 1948)

Edzard Ernst is a retired British-German academic physician and researcher specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine. He was Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, the world's first such academic position in complementary and alternative medicine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ian Kennedy (legal scholar)</span>

Sir Ian McColl Kennedy is a British academic lawyer who has specialised in the law and ethics of health. He was appointed to chair the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in 2009.

Sir Graeme Robertson Dawson Catto FRSE, Hon FRCSE, FRCP(Lon, Edin & Glasg), FRCGP, FFPM, FAoP, FMedSci FKC is a Scottish doctor who was president, later chair, of the General Medical Council until April 2009. He is also currently Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the Universities of London and Aberdeen and was an honorary consultant nephrologist at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is a regulatory body in the United Kingdom which provides a voluntary register of complementary, rather than alternative medicine, therapists. The key purpose of CNHC is to act in the public interest and enable proper public accountability of the complementary therapists that it registers.

Karol Sikora is a British physician specialising in oncology, who has been described as a leading world authority on cancer. He was a founder and medical director of Rutherford Health, a company that provided proton therapy services, and is Director of Medical Oncology at the Bahamas Cancer Centre.

<i>Trick or Treatment?</i> 2008 book by Singh and Ernst

Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial is a 2008 book by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst. The book evaluates the scientific evidence for alternative medicines such as acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and chiropractic, and briefly covers 36 other treatments. It finds that the scientific evidence for these alternative treatments is generally lacking. The authors concluded that homeopathy is merely a placebo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Michael Dixon (doctor)</span> British general practitioner

Michael Dixon LVO, OBE, FRCGP, FRCP is an English general practitioner and healthcare leader. He is Chair of The College of Medicine, Co-Chair of the National Social Prescribing Network, Visiting Professor at University College London and Westminster University and Head of the Royal Medical Household.

The College of Medicine (CoM) is a United Kingdom-based organisation founded in October 2010 that grew out of The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health after it was shut down due to accounting fraud. It is chaired by Michael Dixon, a former director of the Foundation. It promotes alternative medicine.

George Lewith was a professor at the University of Southampton researching alternative medicine and a practitioner of complementary medicine. He was a prominent and sometimes controversial advocate of complementary medicine in the UK.

The Sunflower Jam is a British charity registered in England and Wales (1138401) since 2010, founded by Jacky Paice, wife of Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice. Other high-profile supporters are the actor Jeremy Irons, ex-Jamiroquai bassist Nick Fyffe, Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, Queen guitarist Brian May, and Charles, King of the United Kingdom.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smallwood Report</span> 2005 report promoting alternative medicine

The Smallwood Report, officially entitled The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the NHS: An Investigation into the Potential Contribution of Mainstream Alternative Therapies to Healthcare in the UK, was a 2005 report promoting the use of so-called "alternative medicine" in Britain's taxpayer funded National Health Service, as a cost-effective and efficacious alternative to evidence-based medicine. The report was written by economist Christopher Smallwood, commissioned by Charles, Prince of Wales, and funded by disgraced Tory politician Dame Shirley Porter. The report recommended that a number of treatments be made available on the NHS, including acupuncture, homoeopathy, manipulation therapies and herbal remedies. Graeme Catto wrote the introduction. Smallwood is an economist with no background in healthcare.

Alternative medicine describes any practice which aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested or untestable. Complementary medicine (CM), complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), integrated medicine or integrative medicine (IM), and holistic medicine are among many rebrandings of the same phenomenon.


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