A recent report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8584600.stm) found that in 25 of the NHS trusts a total of 4,600 more patients had died at those trusts in 2007-08 than would be expected. Even if some of those numbers are explainable, many more cases will not have been considered (these were hospital deaths only, so not including GP patients). This maybe gives a rough idea of how many people are killed by conventional medical care each year.
If any CAM therapy killed even 1% of those numbers it would be banned instantly. (Less than that, actually. Chinese herbal medicine came under scrutiny after a couple of deaths in the late 90s, and has now been severely restricted and regulated. I'm not aware of any other fatalities caused by CAM treatments.)
Yet there has been this big push against CAM by academia & pharma interests, particularly against 'unscientific' treatments like homeopathy. Given the NHS fatalities, this seems a bit like insisting on a Health & Safety risk assessment for a replacement lightbulb while your house is actually on fire...
But nothing will change, because there are too many vested interests.
Thank you Andrew for that clear and informative post. I couldn't agree more with the points you raise, its just good to know there's someone out there who shares my views of the CAM/conventional medical world. A lot of CAM therapists seem to be missing the point with this misguided rush to register with whatever body presents itself. They seem to be under the misguided understanding that this will increase acceptability of CAM by conventional medicine. I have written to Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, today along the lines of your post, if for nothing else, then to make me feel better. Maybe there's a few others out there who will join me.