Doctors have urged primary care groups to pay for alternative medicine such as acupuncture.

Enthusiastic practices should be encouraged to be 'centres of excellence', making their services available to the whole PCG, according to an NHS PCG Alliance report.

Chair Dr Michael Dixon said research was needed to demonstrate whether there was a case for unorthodox treatments, some of which were under threat.

Some PCG boards 'aren't too sympathetic' to complementary medicine, while others were 'finding it difficult to put in the extra money it would take to spread these services out', he said.

But if practices had to stop offering treatments such as hypnotherapy 'we would have lost a fantastic resource in terms of finding out what does and doesn't work'.

Up to 40 per cent of GPs already refer their patients for alternative therapy, the report says.

But PCGs are often reluctant to take over paying for the services set up with money from fundholding. Not all PCGs should be expected to take on complementary treatments, the report admits.

Primary Care Groups and Complementary Medicine.