Threat to NHS homeopathy
NHS England is on the verge of advising Care Commission Groups (CCGs) that they should not routinely allow patients to receive homeopathic treatment on the NHS.
Over the last 10 years the already weak evidence against homeopathy has got weaker, and the whole range of evidence for homeopathy has got stronger.
Whatever is said about homeopathy, studies within the NHS have shown that 70% of patients benefit from this therapy. Patients should have the right to choose it as an alternative to drug treatments and their associated side effects, especially as it is also cheap and safe.
If you can do nothing else, please sign this petition and get everyone you know to sign it, so that we can get the issue publicly discussed, despite the media censorship of the facts.
Write to NHS England
If you want to do more, the NHS England consultation process ends on 21 October.
We believe that the key points to make are these, though there are other points in the 4Homeopathy letter to MPs:
The NHS exists to benefit patients. The NHS itself has evidence that patients are benefited by homeopathy,[1-3] so patient access to homeopathy should continue.
The NHS has to take account of the safety of treatments, but homeopathy is safe, so there is no problem on these grounds.
The NHS has to take account of the cost of treatments, but homeopathic medicines are extremely cheap. Furthermore, the NHS has not conducted any study to show the relative costs of treating patients with homeopathy and treating the same patients with conventional medicine, so there is no evidence at all for claims that cutting homeopathy will generate financial savings.
Additional points you might like to include are:
In proposing that there is insufficient evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy, NHS England has not cited scientific evidence, but the 2010 report of a Parliamentary committee. This report not only depended on a discredited study of an arbitrarily selected 8 trials, but also ignored basic science evidence which completely invalidated claims that homeopathic medicines are not biologically active. The report has been widely criticised.
There are serious questions about the evidence for the effectiveness of conventional medicine. According to the BMJ, some 50% of conventional treatments used by the NHS have no evidence of benefit, and only 11% have definite evidence of benefit. Furthermore, these figures have remained virtually unchanged over the last nine years.
It is estimated that conventional treatments also come with a 25% surcharge to the NHS in the form of treatment of their adverse effects.
1. Spence DS, Thompson EA, Barron SJ, ‘Homeopathic Treatment for Chronic Disease: A 6-Year, University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2005, 11:793-798.
2. Dr. Adrian Hunnisett, Homeopathy Service Survey (Cirencester: The Park Surgery, 2005).
3. See also ‘Memorandum submitted by Dr Hugh J Nielsen (HO 29)’, Evidence Check, p. Ev 158.
4. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy (London: The Stationery Office Limited, 2010).
5. Aijing Shang, Karin Huwiler-Müntener, Linda Nartey, Peter Jüni, Stephan Dörig, Jonathan A.C. Sterne, Daniel Pewsner and Prof. Matthias Egger, ‘Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy’, Lancet, 366 (2005), 726-732.
6. For example the ignored research in ‘Memorandum submitted by Dr Peter Fisher (HO 21)’ and ‘Memorandum submitted by the Homeopathic Research Institute (HO 26), Evidence Check, pp. Ev 21 and Ev 148.
7. The Evidence Check (see also the dedicated website):
Represented the views of only three MPs, two of whom had declared interests in favour of conventional medicine, an economic rival of homeopathy;
Was severely criticised by 70 MPs in Early Day Motion 908;
Was severely criticised by Earl Baldwin of Bewly, one of the authors of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on CAM therapies in 2000;
Was rejected by the government;
Was opposed by members of the public, 67,289 of whom signed a declaration that ‘Homeopathy worked for me’, and 250 of whom lobbied Parliament;
Was severely criticised by the Homeopathic Research Institute.
8. From the BMJ Clinical Evidence website today (2/10/17). Note that these figures have not really changed over the last four years, and that a smaller percentage of treatments are beneficial compared with 2008 (13%), and greater percentage are of unknown effectiveness than in 2008 (46%).
9. Sarah Boseley, ‘Adverse drug reactions cost NHS £2bn’, The Guardian, 3 April 2008.
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