The NHS should treat patients with herbs instead of drugs in order to save money, an influential Tory MP has suggested.
Conservative health committee member David Tredinnick said that herbal medicine and even astrology should be given to patients in order to plug a growing hole in the budget.
"I have referred to the fact that in some cultures astrology is part of healthcare because they need to have a voice and I've got up and said that," he told Channel Four News.
"But I also think we can reduce the bill by using a whole range of alternative medicine including herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy.
"We could probably save five per cent of the [NHS] budget."
Tredinnick, who is also a member of the science and technology committee, has been a long-term advocate of alternative medicine.
Earlier this year he told MPs that astrology should be used to replace some "conventional" medicines on the NHS.
"I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier," he told the Commons.
"I hope that in future we stop looking just at increasing the supply of drugs and consider the way that complementary and alternative medicine can reduce the demand for drugs, reduce pressures on the health service, increase patient satisfaction, and make everyone in this country happier."
Tredinnick was speaking last night as thousands of NHS workers striked over plans to freeze their pay.
He defended the pay freeze, saying that NHS's budget was "finite."
However, asked whether he planned to take his own upcoming nine per cent pay rise recommended for MPs, he refused to answer.
"I'm not getting drawn on MPs pay... I'm not answering that question on this programme because we're dealing with the health service."
Pushed further, he suggested that the rise was necessary in order to make MPs "good public servants"
"All members of parliament will be given a pay rise which is been set by an independent authority. Most of those members of parliament will take that pay rise because that is what is deemed necessary to have good public servants," he insisted.