Spirit of community acupuncture

What is community acupuncture?

Community acupuncture is the provision of acupuncture to high standards of clinical effectiveness, safety and hygiene, at a lower cost than normal private practice. There are currently about 50 community clinics around the UK. Prices for community acupuncture vary, but are typically set at 35-50% of the local rate. At our Bishy Road clinic, you pay what you can afford, beginning at a rate of £20 per treatment (plus a 2.75% surcharge if you pay by card). At our University of York clinic (for students and staff of the University of York only) there is a flat £15 fee per treatment (plus a 2.75% surcharge if you pay by card).

Why do you do this when you could charge more?

Acupuncture was invented as a folk medicine 2,000 years ago in China, but we feel that in the West it has become an expensive private medicine. We have a strong belief in acupuncture’s ability to help particularly those people with complex chronic conditions that may not respond well to treatment with conventional medicine; in the UK, it remains a fact that people more likely to experience such complex, chronic conditions tend to be in lower income brackets, and by definition they are therefore excluded from accessing acupuncture. Karen set up Love Community Acupuncture in 2015 to enable patients on lower incomes to have acupuncture.

There’s also a benefit to us personally: as clinicians, we see a wide variety of people and health conditions in community practice. For us personally, this is interesting and professionally satisfying – and clinically, it keeps us on our toes!

So what is the ‘spirit’ of community acupuncture?

Working for less than the market rate inevitably means there are some differences between community acupuncture and normal private acupuncture. There are no catches, but equally there are no frills! You could say that the spirit of community acupuncture means mutual respect between you and us, regarding what’s on offer – and what isn’t.

What is on offer is an excellent standard of clinical effectiveness, safety and hygiene, together with a high level of personal, friendly, individual attention during your appointment. We absolutely do not cut corners on the essentials. We are members of the British Acupuncture Council and therefore the clinic runs to the extremely high professional and clinical standards set out by them, as well as the environmental hygiene standards of the City of York Council. So you get the same standard of acupuncture as in any private practice.

But to keep the community clinic at the low rates you enjoy, while still being sustainable for us, we don’t offer much in the way of extras! Mostly this means that we don’t offer extended personal attention outside of actual appointments. For instance, here are some of the things that aren’t on offer:

  • We aren’t able to book an appointment for new patients, or fill in the intake forms; a new patient needs to do this themselves online.
  • We ask everyone to pay in advance of treatment, and there are no exceptions to that. We don’t offer credit or discounts. If your income fluctuates, at the Bishy Road clinic you can vary the amount you pay from treatment to treatment – we strongly encourage you to do this, rather than stop coming for treatment. We ask you to discuss this first with your acupuncturist; it’s obviously a sensitive issue and we won’t probe, but it helps the good faith of the relationship if we can understand your position.
  • If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, we ask you to do this yourself online using the links in the reminder emails that our lovely automated system sends you; we don’t offer the service of doing this for you.
  • We aren’t able to answer queries regarding things like location, parking, bus routes, etc – the website has a lot of information to answer these queries, and we do expect people to look at the website to try to find answers before they get in touch. Sorry!
  • We ask for honesty from our patients regarding their income as reflected in the amount they pay; anything less would be disrespectful of both us and other patients in need of affordable acupuncture that they can’t get elsewhere. If you come for treatment at the lowest rate and then tell us about your Jaguar and your Caribbean villa, we might detect a wee bit of disrespect!
  • We have occasionally been a target for ‘acupuncture junkies’ who love acupuncture so much they try to get a double fix of it by coming to LCA at low cost and then to another practitioner as well, without telling us. We sympathise with loving acupuncture, but this is risky (overdose is rare but not unknown in acupuncture), and it’s definitely an abuse of the community acupuncture spirit. If we know someone is doing this, we will sign them off immediately.

The exception to this is if you’re ever concerned about any response you may have to treatment, in which case you absolutely MUST call us (07582 234578) – we’ll be very happy to respond and reassure you.

This probably sounds rather unfriendly and a bit pompous! We hope it doesn’t – it’s simply to set out what’s on offer and to protect the clinic from the kinds of misunderstandings and possible abuses of service that can arise sometimes. This benefits all our patients by keeping the clinic sustainable.

What might be the consequences of disrespecting the community acupuncture spirit?

We’re happy to say it hasn’t happened very often, and when it does, it’s almost always the result of genuine misunderstanding that’s easily put right with a quick chat. In the very rare cases where we feel that somebody is disrespecting these boundaries, and a chat doesn’t stop it happening, we may choose to withdraw the offer of treatment at Love Community Acupuncture, and to make recommendations for other acupuncturists (to whom, in line with professional obligations of confidentiality, we would not disclose any of that patient’s personal or medical history).

With rare exceptions, we’re always ready to give somebody a second chance. But we’d need to agree some changes with you, to give you and us renewed confidence and trust in each other. What those changes are, would depend on the individual circumstances of the case.

If you have any queries, please just ask! Thanks for reading, and for understanding.