What is community acupuncture?

I’m Karen Charlesworth, the director of Love Community Acupuncture.

In 2013 I graduated from the Northern College of Acupuncture, one of Europe’s most highly respected acupuncture training institutions, with a Masters degree with Distinction in Acupuncture. Along the way I acquired a very real concern that acupuncture – originally a low-cost, affordable medicine in China – has become an expensive form of private medicine here in the West.

Here in this country we live longer, with an increasing number of complex, interlocking conditions that detract from our quality of life, for which conventional medicine sometimes has no good answers – and this is precisely the kind of problem that acupuncture is brilliant at resolving or improving. But at a typical cost of £35-45 per treatment, I’m concerned that acupuncture is beyond the reach of many patients who could potentially benefit from its healing abilities.

So I set up Love Community Acupuncture to make acupuncture available to people on lower incomes, with no sacrifice of safety, hygiene or effectiveness. LCA was originally a multibed clinic (a big room with six beds, with everyone receiving treatment in the same room) but is now run more like a private clinic – I see patients one-to-one, with no other patients or staff sharing the space, for a full 45-minute appointment. This gives me the freedom to protect privacy and dignity, and to carry out full treatments including some associated Chinese medicine therapies such as cupping and electro-acupuncture. The only difference between Love Community Acupuncture and a regular private acupuncture practice is the cost: you pay what you can afford, from just £15 per treatment compared with £35-£45 in private practice.

As well as my Masters degree, I’m a full member of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), the professional body that oversees standards for acupuncturists in the UK, and which fully insures me to carry out treatments on my premises. The government’s Professional Standards Authority, which accredits the BAcC, ensures that those standards are equal to those of any other healthcare professional working in the UK. I have a licence issued by the City of York Council, which also licenses my premises, for the practice of acupuncture. All this means that the safety and effectiveness of your treatment, and the care you receive, are equally high as those of other healthcare professionals – despite the low cost.

I now teach at the Northern College of Acupuncture here in York, and I am also a supervisor in the College’s student clinic. And I’m about to start a PhD looking at acupuncture’s potential in humanitarian aid situations. Do ask if you’re curious – I love to talk to people about it!