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Prince Charles backed Peter Hain's £200k alternative medicine trials

By PA reporters

Peter Hain has revealed how he had the backing of Prince Charles for a £200,000 complementary therapy pilot scheme in Northern Ireland.

The Labour MP boasted that the Prince had been unable to persuade other ministers that complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) were of value – but in Northern Ireland "since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted".

Mr Hain was one of three former cabinet ministers interviewed for a BBC documentary, The Royal Activist, about Charles' political interventions.

"He had been constantly frustrated at his inability to persuade any health ministers anywhere that that was a good idea, and so he, as he once described it to me, found me unique from this point of view, in being somebody that actually agreed with him on this, and might want to deliver it," said Mr Hain.

He added: "When I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 2005-7, he was delighted when I told him that since I was running the place I could more or less do what I wanted to do.

"I was able to introduce a trial for complementary medicine on the NHS, and it had spectacularly good results, that people's well-being and health was vastly improved.

"And when he learnt about this he was really enthusiastic and tried to persuade the Welsh government to do the same thing and the government in Whitehall to do the same thing for England, but not successfully."

The trial was administered by Get Well UK – a now-defunct not-for-profit company that promoted CAM to the Health Service.

However, a Stormont report on the scheme appears to have been quietly shelved.

In the report, a Belfast GP was quoted as saying: "For £200,000 we could have four additional physios and cleared our physio waiting list.

"The therapies weren't a cheap option ... they cost £200,000 ... half of it is going on management and admin too."

Mr Hain recently announced he will step as an MP at the next election.

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