In the West, acupuncture is still most commonly practiced privately, with one patient seeing one practitioner for around 45 minutes to an hour per treatment, and usually being required to pay anything between £30 and £200 per treatment.
Some people can afford this whenever they chose; plenty of people in the UK can afford to pay this once in a while; but lots of people will find it hard to pay this price regularly, and it is vital that you can have treatment frequently enough and for long enough to get better and stay better.
So, if one-to-one acupuncture is only affordable for some people, is there a way to provide acupuncture that is affordable for more people in our community? The answer is yes: “multibed” or “community” acupuncture clinics!
What is a multibed acupuncture clinic?
In a ‘multibed’ clinic, several people are treated together in one large room, hence the term.
It is possible for acupuncturists to offer this type of service because acupuncture needles usually take 20-45 minutes to do their work, so the practitioner can place needles in one patient, leave them to relax into their treatment, and then move on to another patient.
By treating more than one patient each hour, a practitioner can significantly reduce the price of each treatment. Also, rent costs per patient can be much reduced, and these savings can be passed on to you, the patient.
Do people mind being treated together?
As well as the reduced cost, an extra benefit of multibed clinics is the community spirit that emerges when several people are treated together. Patients consistently report that they like the sense of togetherness and humanity they find there. Further to this, an energy field or ‘chi’ field is created when several people are treated together and this can enhance the power of one’s healing experience, just as practicing yoga or tai chi alongside several other people can make it seem to flow more easily and more powerfully.
The vast majority of patients feel very comfortable receiving acupuncture in this setting. For a small number of patients, receiving acupuncture treatment in a space with other people may feel unacceptable. If you are feeling uncomfortable, ask for time to talk this over with your practitioner, and if necessary you can talk about finding a suitable one-to-one practitioner to continue your treatment.
Why is it important that acupuncture is more affordable?
Multibed clinics reduce the cost of acupuncture treatments as described above. This is important because it means that more patients are able to access treatment frequently enough and for long enough to get better and stay better. If you only have a few treatments, or your treatments are too infrequent, the acupuncture may not build up the momentum to give you the healing you seek.
How will my dignity be protected when I have treatment in a multibed clinic?
It is possible to offer more affordable acupuncture by treating people together in the same space. Obviously this may impact patients’ privacy during treatment. We are well aware of this and take steps to ensure high quality patient care. It is rare to have to remove clothes, as the most-frequently used points are on the arms and legs. Trousers and sleeves can be rolled up, or a skirt moved to one side, for example. For this reason, please wear loose clothing when you attend your clinic.
It is the duty of your practitioner to ensure that you feel well cared for in the shared space. However, different patients have different needs, and the issue of privacy may be more of a concern for some patients than others.
Please talk to your practitioner about how you will be treated before you agree to start your treatment. During your treatment, if you feel that you would like more privacy, either to talk about personal issues or during your treatment, please let your practitioner know and they will be happy to help.