Calls for NHS to stop funding homeopathy

Homeopathy cropped

£1.7m a year of Scottish NHS cash goes on so-called alternative treatment

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4th August 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Calls have been made for the NHS to stop spending cash on homeopathy.

The Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) has asked the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for health, Shona Robison, to review how NHS Boards are funding the controversial alternative treatment.

This follows action by NHS England which announced, as part of a recent consultation, that it will end the practice of funding homeopathy.

If this changes goes ahead down south, Scotland will be the only part of the UK where the NHS continues to fund the practice.

Only six of Scotland’s 14 NHS health boards still funded homeopathic remedies in 2015/16, at a cost of £1.7 million.

Almost £1.3m of the total was spent by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with Ayrshire and Arran spending £214,000 and Grampian spending £177,000.

Opponents of homeopathy, in which solutions containing no active ingredients are given to patients, label it as a pseudo-science, pointing to overwhelming evidence that it has absolutely no effect, other than perhaps as a placebo.

HSS chief executive Gordon MacRae said: “It is absolutely vital that NHS spending is directed towards meaningful and effective treatments that have a real prospect of treating illnesses and other medical complaints.

“Homeopathy has continually been shown, time after time, to be no more effective than a simple placebo effect. The fact that the NHS in Scotland is spending over £1.5m a year on unproven remedies will stick in the throats of patients.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it “recognises that some complementary and alternative medicines, including homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions”.

She added: “It is for individual NHS boards to decide which therapies they make available based on national and local priorities and the needs of their resident populations, in line with national guidance.”

Margaret Wyllie, chair of the British Homeopathic Association, responded: “In France, a study of 8,500 patients treated by GPs trained in homeopathy found they did as well or better than those treated with conventional medicine.

“Patients also reported fewer side-effects and GPs prescribed fewer costly pharmaceutical drugs, something which the NHS is committed to achieving.

“Banning homeopathy from the NHS in Scotland will result in more conventional drugs being prescribed, which will be bad for patients and for the NHS budget.”