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  4. Complementary Therapy Massage

Complementary Therapy Massage

Massage therapy is intended to enhance the patient’s care by reducing stress and anxiety and enabling patients to cope better with their illness, which can also aid recovery time. It is not an alternative to medical treatments but is the ‘Treat’ rather than the treatment. Massage therapy is about caring for you as a person and not the condition you are having to cope with.

The complementary therapy service for patients was started at the Royal Free in 1992 by Keith Hunt MBE as a voluntary massage service provided solely by him, for referred cancer patients. During the ensuing 8 years, patient numbers seen by Keith increased from 60 per year to 2,500. In the year 2000, in recognition of the demand for the service and the benefits felt by the patients, the Complementary Therapy department at the Royal Free was created and Keith was appointed as the head of the service. Keith Hunt MBE was honoured in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for outstanding services to complementary therapy at the Royal Free Trust.

Watch our video below to see how massage therapy at the Royal Free is influencing patient treatments around the world.

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Today, the Complementary Therapy service is part of the Royal Free Charity supported by the generosity of donors and fundraisers. In 2017 - 2018, myself and my team of qualified therapists provided 34,780 visits
across many medical disciplines over multiple sites.

Our team of therapists include permanent staff and volunteers who provide years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in specialist areas. They are a very dedicated team who are a great source of support
and comfort to many patients and their carers.

Keith Hunt MBE

Main areas supported by Massage Therapy

  • Oncology (Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy)
  • Dialysis
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Transplantation
  • ICU
  • Maternity
  • Rheumatology and scleroderma
  • Infectious diseases
  • Care of the elderly

Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Aid pain management
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve respiratory rates
  • Relieve boredom
  • Provide companionship, especially for the care of the elderly
  • Improve wellbeing

Where possible we can also support patients’ carers, close family members and partners. We also provide massage for staff members.

What type of Massage do we provide?

The type of massage we offer is clinical massage which is very gentle and based on the “Swedish” technique which has been adapted to consider the patients’ physical and emotional needs. The department uses oils which have been specially blended for us for our department for safe use within the hospital.

Massage therapy music also helps patients and carers relax and CDs can be purchased from the therapy team.

Massage Therapy Referral

Patients need to be referred by a member of the multi-disciplinary team looking after them as the massage team need to be aware of certain
medical conditions and of any surgical areas that they may need to avoid.

In Patients

Please inform staff that you would like to be added to the massage therapy patient list. Once we have received the referral form we will do our best to see you within 24hours (therapy sessions provided Monday to Friday).


If you are attending Chemotherapy, PITU or the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation, please let your nurse know that you would like to be included on the massage therapy list and they will inform us accordingly.

Radiotherapy out-patients

If you would like a massage please ask staff at the radiotherapy department to complete a referral form and they will also give you details of how to book an appointment. Please note that we are unable to make appointments without having first received a referral form.

Donate to massage therapy

It’s about the ‘Treat’ not the treatment. Putting the patient before their illness and bringing a smile when it is most needed. Every massage provided is free to the recipient. It costs the charity £25 to provide each therapy session which includes therapist’s time and oils. A £25 donation provides massage therapy for a patient, reducing stress and anxiety.

We would love to hear how massage therapy has made a difference to you or your loved one. Please leave a comment for the team.


Massage Therapy locations

Massage therapy is available on various sites including The Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm. See what units provide massage therapy.

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Massage Therapy music

Seven beautifully relaxing original piano compositions.

find out more >



These are comments received from patients and their loved ones expressing how massage therapy has made a difference.

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