Natural therapies offered at Whanganui Hospital belong in church, district health board members say.
Christian prayer and traditional Maori healing are to be offered at Whanganui Hospital from Monday as part of a natural therapy service.
Hospital staff will trial the service - which is focused on spirituality and the healing and strengthening of the mind - for three months before the district health board considers opening it up to patients.
Reiki, massage and meditation would also be available, Maori health director Gilbert Taurua said.
Whanganui District Health Board member Michael Laws described the therapy service as a "seriously stupid decision that hasn't gone anywhere near the DHB board table".
Mr Laws, on his radio talkback show, compared some of the therapies to witchcraft and questioned whether it was the job of health services to provide supernatural therapies.
"I would have thought churches for that maybe . . . It just strikes me as bizarre."
Board member Clive Solomon suggested the hospital "should pay some attention to getting proper standards of care and empathy in conventional Western medicine . . . before embarking on bone-throwing with taxpayer money".
Victoria University biology sciences professor Shaun Holt called the therapies a "strange mix". There was no evidence-based research on reiki, Christian prayer and Maori healing being useful.
"What annoys me with things like this is there are lots of useful complementary therapies out there that they could be offering - yoga, tai chi, herbal supplements, even acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine, that are all evidence-based," Prof Holt said.
- The Dominion Post
Did the Key v Cunliffe debate change your vote?Related story: Support slips for National and John Key