4th February 2019 | News

In March 2017, the Charity Commission launched a consultation on how the law on charitable status applies to organisations that use or promote complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CNHC provided a robust response, which you can view here.

We stressed that it has been formally accepted that money is not available for randomised controlled trials for complementary therapies.  We drew attention to other sources of evidence, including clinical audits, case studies and patient reported outcome measures (PROMS), that are used particularly in the cancer and palliative care sector, and in mental health services.  In December 2018, the Charity Commission published the outcome of the consultation.  

We’re pleased that the outcome confirms that the basic legal principles that apply to the Charity Commission’s work in assessing applications for charity status by CAM organisations remain unchanged.  And we’re delighted to see that:

We’re pleased that the outcome confirms that the basic legal principles that apply to the Charity Commission’s work in assessing applications for charity status by CAM organisations remain unchanged.  And we’re delighted to see that:

  • the review has established that some CAM organisations do not aim to provide the same benefits to the public as more conventional medical organisations might. Instead their purposes may relate to relieving suffering or providing comfort to patients, either generally or in the context of certain medical conditions. In such situations, evidence of benefit may come in the form of outcome reports by patients, or observational studies based on patient responses. This type of evidence may, for example, be the best available source to evidence a patient’s level of pain, functional limitations, or other symptoms (fatigue, mood, and so on).
  • the Commission’s guidance has been amended to take account of the range of evidence sources available to demonstrate public benefit and of developments in knowledge over time.

This means that these additional measurable methods, which are used across many complementary therapies, will now be considered by the Charity Commission for new applicants and when reviewing current charities that use or promote complementary therapies.

You can read the full outcome report from the Charity Commission here.