The City of Brighton and Hove probably has the largest number of complementary therapists in the country.

That poses a number of problems Which therapist should you see for treatment of your condition? Who will advise you as to which therapy is suitable?

Here, the question of gatekeepers arises. There are some 154 regulatory bodies for complementary medicine in UK.

The problem which the Department of Health has with this is that they do not know who to ask.

The encouraging news however is that the DoH is interested in looking at the main complementary therapies for their integration within the NHS.

The five big therapies are: homeopathy, herbalism (Ayurvedic medicine is included under herbalism), osteopathy, acupuncture and chiropracty.

Foundation of Integrated Medicine was established by Prince Charles to help fund some research into complementary medicine and to consolidate the regulatory bodies for each complementary therapy into one body.

Doctors and the public can contact the foundation to access information on various therapies and also verify the standards and credibility of regulatory bodies.

You can pass on this information to your who might want to gain more information.

Round the country and globally doctors are referring patients to accredited complementary therapists.

The concern in the UK, of course, is the total responsibility which doctors have for their patients and, should something go wrong, there is the fear of ending up at the General Medical Council.

The answer to this, in my opinion, lies in training and education for doctors, and making it possible for doctors to pursue their training in a particular area of interest.

The other issue is that the vast majority of complementary therapists work in isolation. This cannot be good for professional development and support.

It would help if complementary therapists kept in communication with doctors about treatment of patients.

On November 11-16, 2001, the Global Holistic Health Summit on Holistic and Integrated Medicine is to be held in Bangalore, India.

Eminent doctors and therapists from around the world will discuss their experience.

While efforts for integrating conventional and complementary medicine should continue, we should perhaps remind ourselves that the main ingredient of good practice is perhaps the "art of caring".

Have we forgotten the art of caring in the medical profession?

Foundation of Integrated Medicine , International House, 59 Compton Road, London N1 2YT Tel: 0208 7688 1881