It’s Official! British Government backs NHS Homeopathy

Remember the date: 26th July, 2010

Today will be remembered as a red letter day in the history of British homeopathy.

In a landmark decision today, the Government emphatically backed the people’s right to NHS homeopathy.

A low quality, biased and deeply flawed report, signed by a small handful of MPs constituting the Science and Technology Committee (S&TCo) had sought to thwart the will of those GPs wanting to send patients for NHS homeopathy by calling for the removal of funding of NHS homeopathy. NHS-funded homeopathy has existed since several homeopathic hospitals were invited to become part of the NHS at its formation in 1948. Even the BMA showed its disdain for a sizeable minority of doctors and patients when it called for a ban on NHS homeopathy at its annual conference last month.

Earlier today, Health minister Anne Milton strongly disagreed. Striking a blow for humanity, democracy, liberty and patient choice, she said: ‘…clinicians are best placed to make decisions on what treatment is appropriate for their patients.’ as she unceremoniously booted into touch the anti-democratic and condescending ‘recommendations’ of both the BMA and the S&TCo.

Yes Minister. Thank you very much indeed for agreeing that it is doctors who should make clinical decisions about their patients and not authoritarian bureaucrats who would rule doctors by sending out diktats. It must be noted that the previous administration had certainly hinted that they also intended to back liberty and patient choice when ex-health minister Mike O’Brien said that it would be ‘illiberal’ to withdraw funding of NHS homeopathy.

There was much more at stake here than NHS homeopathy. Instead of turning in his grave, John Stuart Mill must be sighing in relief.

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Comments

What wonderful news for all concerned.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by warhelmet, Madeleine Innocent. Madeleine Innocent said: UK Government Backs Homeopathy http://ow.ly/2gVJK [...]

Great news-going on front page of my websites-www.arnicamontana.org http://www.arnica.com.au
Kate Diamantopoulo
West Australia

@Madelaine Innocent Yes indeed. Detractors of homeopathy will have to try to ‘dissuade’ doctors rather than trying to go to bureaucratics above their heads.
This is a big Hurrah! for democracy in the UK.

Not at all.
They’ve merely handed the decision down to Primary Care Trusts.

It was also not a flawed, biased, flawed report.
That’s a legally ambiguous claim.
I’d like to see your evidence for that, please.

I am surprised to read (and indeed, hear you on Radio 5) spin a report that contains the phrases:

“Professor Harper, Chief Scientist at the Department, is of the view that the majority of independent scientists consider the evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy to be weak or absent, and that there is currently no plausible scientific mechanism for homeopathy.”

and

“the overriding reason for NHS provision is that homeopathy is available to provide patient choice.”

as being so positive for homeopathy!

I guess when one’s profession cherry-picks quotes as a matter of course, it becomes second nature.

Just out of interest, would you support the freedom of doctors to choose to supply beer on the NHS?

You see, beer makes me feel better, so if we’re going to go down the road of what patients choose and what makes them feel better, then surely the argument for beer on the NHS is every bit as strong as the argument for homoeopathy on the NHS.

Where do you stand on this?

Thanks! Reason and truth have ultimately triumphed. The honesty and humbleness of British Public service to people at large is once again proved to the world not succumbing to bureaucratic manipulations and threats of a few big business entrepreneurs.

I’m not so sure about this.

Two things bother me: there are a lot of homeopaths at, shall we say, the more extreme end of the profession, who make claims that just seem bizarre to me (I’m thinking Berlin Wall, microwaves, etc) – they don’t do any favours to the more mainstream homeopaths! How do we stop them gaining legitimacy from this?

Secondly, is this the thin end of the wedge? I personally don’t want to see nonsense like crystal healing and ear candling on the NHS. Isn’t there a danger that these forms of ‘quackery’ will slip in, in the name of ‘patient choice’?

Unless you think that crystal healing and ear candling actually have some therapeutic value – there is so much quackery out there these days, I’m just not sure how to tell!

That report was hugely contraversial wrt: choice of experts; the way people were interviewed; vested interests of some of the people interviewed; the number of MPs who actually signed off the report (Can someone confirm or disprove the rumour that only 2 MPs signed it off and neither was present at the hearings?) and much more. Lord Edward Baldwin has written eloquenty and very censoriously of that report. That it was flawed and biased is not an established fact, merely my personal opinion.

@David Briggs Do you refer to the report or the government´s response to it? The report made radical authoritarian recommendations to the Government concerning nhs homeopathy, sale and labelling and regulation of homeopathic medicines etc. The Government thanked the MPs for the report and decided to implement NONE of those recommendations. Or am I missing something? I call that a comprehensive and emphatic rejection of the views of the MPs who compiled that report. The previous Labour administration would have also binned those recommendations as Mike O´Brien hinted very strongly when quizzed by the committee.

@Adam That is a tired, boring and much repeated attempt to discredit homeopathz. Outcome studies repeatedly show that patients attending homeopathic NHS hospitals do very well indeed. Outcome studies for beer drinkers do not show this.
QED.

@Sastry.M We will need to be vigilant though. Liberty and democracy are always under threat and should never be taken for granted. Nice to hear from as always. How is life in the world’s largest democracy?

@Rhys (regarding PCTs) Where it was before. And those PCTs are probably going to be phased out leaving those decisions where they belong. In the hands of GPs. I am sorry if you have a problem with that but I do not.

@Rhys Just my opinion. The report made many recommendations regarding NHS homeopathy, regulation of homeopathic remedies and labelling of those remedies. NONEof these were adopted by the Government. From this I surmise that the Government wasn’t that impressed with it either. Or am I missing something. There has been a lot criticism of many aspects of the report – including a very articulate one by Lord Edward Baldwin.

“Outcome studies for beer drinkers do not show this”

Oh yes they do. Try Bobak et al, BMJ 2000;320:1378-1379

So, given that, now do you believe beer should be available on the NHS?

In the era of “the big society” (oh boy!) for once common sense prevails…

@Joe I cannot relate to your concern. The origin of NHS homeopathy is that the existing homeopathic hospitals were invited to join the nhs at its inception in 1948. They are staffed by fully accountable medical doctors. What this has to do with ear candling and crystals and ‘the thin edge of the wedge’ I simply do not know.

@ Adam again I haven’t got that BMJ article. I do not agree that this is reasonable comparison in any way. NHS homeopathic doctors are fully accountable for their actions and NHS homeopathy is cost-effective and safe. That is good enough for me.

@ nick kemp And what pleases me most about this is that this Government and the last Labour government both felt the same way about the authoritarian recommendations of that vile report. It would be ‘illiberal’ (Mike O’Brien, ex Labour minister of health) to cut funding of NHS homeopathy. And now the Coalition have booted the recommendations of the committee into touch. This is not only a big victory for NHS homeopathy and as you say common sense. This is a big win for democracy, liberty and minority rights. I am amazed that some of the commentators here cannot see how scientistic and blatantly authoritarian their views are. And behind all this is the incorrect assumption that orthodox medicine on the NHS must be fully evidence based when it most certainly is not as the BMJ handbook on Clinical Evidence makes it perfectly clear. But yes indeed this was a good day for society – big or small.

@ Colin Jenkins Thanks for this.

@Brian

I’m not sure – are you saying that the doctors there will act as gatekeepers and keep the wackier ones out? Or do you think all homeopathic medicines – regardless of the source – have a place?

Although I don’t know very many crystal healers or ear candlers, I’m sure they will be knocking on doors trying to get a piece of the action. Perhaps I’m just too pessimistic!

@Joe I really do not know what you are worried about. Nothing has changed. The status quo regarding the provision of NHS homeopathy by qualified doctors to patients referred to them by NHS GPs has
simply survived a nasty threat. In doing so, a blow was struck for democracy and liberty in the UK. Homeopathy on the NHS is ‘special’ because existing homeopathic hospitals staffed by doctors were invited to become part of the NHS
at its inception in 1948. The derogatory comments you read and hear about homeopathy are nearly all 200 years old – as are the lame jokes. Those who bray for ‘evidence’ or only ‘EBM’ on the NHS are either consciously or unconsciously being highly disingenuous. As I have pointed out relentlessly: Large swathes of conventional NHS medicine are not evidence based. I would oppose a centrally applied litmus test of EBM to decide whether a treatment is funded by the NHS but IF this were to be done, it would need to be applied on a level playing field to all interventions. SSRIs (annual drug budget 230 million) and many other interventions besides homeopathy (annual drug budget 10 million) might have a problem making the cut but I prefer doctors to make accountable decisons about their patients rather than being ruled by orders from Westminster or anywhere else. Is this viewpoint really so contraversial? Heaven help us if we have become so dependent on the ‘nanny state’ that we need to rule doctors by Soviet Union style diktats. rather than hold them accountable for their clinical decisions. So let your pessimism go, relax and be optimistic that we still have a vestige of liberty and democracy in the UK!

“I haven’t got that BMJ article.”

Ah, sorry, perhaps I should have provided a link. In fact, I must confess I was guilty of making an assumption, for which I apologise. When you appeared on the radio the other day, they introduced you as being from “a scientific background”, and you call yourself “Dr” so I just assumed that you would know how to look up a journal reference, particularly in a journal as mainstream as the BMJ.

But clearly that assumption was wrong. I guess looking in mainstream journals is something you avoid, as they contain evidence, which must be anathema to your very being.

Anyway, apologies for the wrong assumption. Here’s a link to the paper. http://tinyurl.com/38temgm

Still, it sounds like you don’t need to read the paper anyway, as you have clearly drawn your own conclusions about it without having to take the trouble of reading it first.

It must be great to operate in a belief system based on faith instead of evidence. You wouldn’t believe how much time I have to spend reading all those tedious research papers if I want to form an opinion on a medical topic. Your way of doing things, where you just believe in what your heart tells you (or perhaps reading tea-leaves, or whatever it is you homoeopaths do, or maybe just whatever fits most nicely with your way of earning a living) must be a real time-saver.

As for homoeopaths being responsible and safe, if that were true I would have much less problem with homoeopathy. I see you say you treat conventionally when needed, and that is commendable. If all homoeopaths took your attitude, homoeopathy would be harmless (albeit still not deserving of taxpayer funding). Sadly, many of your colleagues in the homoeopathic world are considerably less responsible than you.

http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

@Joe:

“there is so much quackery out there these days, I’m just not sure how to tell!”

A common problem, Joe. It’s hard for those who don’t have training in medical research to find their way through all the propaganda and get reliable information.

In a nutshell, don’t believe anything you read on a website: you need to look at peer-reviewed journal articles. If you can’t find any peer-reviewed journal articles on a particular form of quackery, then it’s almost certainly pure quackery.

There’s a useful guide here:
http://www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/22/

BTW, if you look up the evidence for homoeopathy, you’ll find that there is in fact plenty of it, and it shows clearly that homoeopathy is no better than placebo. It is, to put it in a nutshell, quackery.

@Adam Okay I have read it and it’s familiar. We know a few units of alcohol a day gives some protection against CHD as does exercise and a healthy diet. But these are non-specific and do not need doctors to prescribe them.
Tell me Joe, what is your opinon regarding the evidence for SSRIs (and their prescription by NHS GPs) in moderate and mild depression? Please let me know asap if the 230 million annual NHS budget on these represents good value for money for the taxpayer. I trust a person as well-versed in peer-reviewed medical literature as your learned self will quickly locate Kirsch et al and I look forward to your objective scientific assessment of that meta-analysis. It would be disappointing for me if et tu Joe, turned out to be one of the disingenuous gang that feel that EBM is to be used as blunt instrument to attack homeopathy and CAM exclusively. large swathes of NHS funded ‘conventional’ medicine is anything but evidence based.

“But these are non-specific and do not need doctors to prescribe them.”

In contrast to homoeopathy, I suppose?

For once Adam, you are totally correct. It takes years of study to be able to prescribe homeopathic remedies correctly. In fact I have written a book on just one aspect of this subject – the taking of the case (The Homeopathic Conversation,Natural Medicine Press, 2001) Then one needs to study the drug pictures of many hundreds of remedies carefully and know how to assess their clinical effect. This is the very antithesis of a non-specific recommendation like a couple of units of alcohol a night. And all this hard study proves to me that homeopaths are not quacks. We believe in the therapeutic effect of our medicines whatever people like you may think. That is why we spend many thousands of hours studying a very challenging discipline.
zzyi

I am aware that some people spend years studying homoeopathy and prescribe treatments very specifically.

I am not aware, however, of any evidence whatsoever that doing so leads to outcomes that are any different from those that would be obtained by a completely untrained homoeopath dispensing remedies completely at random.

A little analogy: it takes years of training to be a Catholic Priest. Does the fact of those years of training by itself constitute adequate proof of transubstantiation? Catholics believe in it whatever people like me may think, but that doesn’t make it true.

@Dr.Kaplan-Thanks for your acknowledgment with advice reg.vigilance and inquiry about life in the world’s largest democracy.Allowing me to sip a small cup of sweet Ganges water juxtaposing into a serious medical discussion exchanged with mugs of beer I humbly submit that life here rumbles as ever but,however, with costs of vigilance mounting up to secure life of liberty and defend democracy of expression.Life to oneself is dear to all but to secure it as a folk of nation is the responsibility of government according to the Law of Kitten. To sustain and survive life within ones own mortal frame is the responsibility of individual against external threats of physical injury or permeating disease according to the Law of baby Monkey. Based on Prof.Darwin’s anthropological evolution only the physical frames have evolved from prehistorical to the present by mutations of genetic coding but,in my opinion,retained the subtle essence of progenitors. Over the dilemma of choice pertaining to both doctors and patients was vividly narrated by G.B Shaw whose Birth Day as a great humorist humanist the world has ever witnessed was celebrated a few days ago.

@Adam
Coming from a conventional medicine background i fully appreciate your comments about scientific literature. I also agree that in comparison to conventional medicine the number of clinical trials conducted that involved homeopathic treatment would be far less. I must tell you that i have been an investigator in oncology trials in conventional medicine, and also that i have no trials to my credit in homeopathy. However with your background i am certain you will appreciate that there are certain pathologies wherein just stray case reports of success would make one sit up and take notice. Take for example, dilated cardiomyopathy and aplastic anemia (non response to all drugs and no match for transplant )– i have documented excellent responses in these cases. Although one would like to have a double blind study, i think a conventional doctor does appreciate even case reports in such cases ? Agree ?

Well said Dr Kaplan! it would of been authoritarian to take homeopathy off the nhs and say that it is not evidence based. if you want to take off non evidence based medicine that is okay. get rid of anti deppression drugs and the rest. but to push out homeopathy on its own, will be disloyal to the people, and i agree with you DR Kaplan. a few days ago was one of the biggest victories for democracy in the history of medicine in the United Kingdom. Thankyou DR Kaplan!

@PaulForlan Thanks. I fought this thing on a political platform from the start. The attack on homeopathy was disingenuous because it tried to use the idea of evidence based medicine to attack homeoopathy exclusively. If homeopathy’s detractors had insisted on a new standard of ‘inclusivity’ for any therapeutic intervention on the NHS, I would have disagreed with them but not accused them of being disingenuous and applying double standards in their argument because much of orthodox NHS medicine is not evidence based and that did not seem to concern most of them. It is precisely because they chose to demonise homeopathy, ridicule it and use double standards to do so that I accused them of being disingenuous. Still this was a close thing. The media lapped up the words of homeopathy’s detractors with people like Ernst, Singh, Goldacre ( who should have known better as his discipline of psychiatry is not exactly strong on evidence for its methods) given free reign in the media and excellent publicity for their awfully biased (in my opinion) books. Then when the good guys (imo) won the battle, there was minimal press coverage. Homeopathy suffered some wounds in this battle but ultimately our attackers were vanquished. Thanks to all concerned.

@Paul.

You are another person who appears to have misunderstood the UK Government’s position.

They specifically state there is no evidence base for homeopathy. The reasons for continuing to allow it to be available stem from the imperative of patient choice which is a political dogma, and not because it does anything helpful.

I agree, any medicine shown not to be useful should be eliminated from NHS funding or availablity. Antidepressants should not be prescribed for mild depression, but then homeopathy should not be prescribed either. Anyone who wants it should just go and buy it from People like Dr Kaplan.

In many ways Dr Kaplan must be silently cursing the Govt’s decision. The more people who can avail themselves of homeopathy on the NHS, the fewer patients he will get.

@Dyson Although I don’t agree with a word you say, as a democrat I will defend your right to spout this sort of stuff.
1. There is more to medicine than making patients objects of a mechanistic deterministic science, though this is sometimes necessary eg subdural haematoma, meningitis etc.
2. I personally do NOT support the NHS only funding so called EBM which would mean that huge swathes of orthodox interventions would bite the dust and it would not be homeopaths who would be moaning the loudest, I can assure you.
3. Your sour grapes driven assertion that I must be ‘silenty cursing’ a landmark Government decision to back NHS homeopathy is typical of the disingenuous campaign against homeopathy, CAM and whole person orientated medicine. As my blog shows, I have spent many, many hours over several years fighting for this victory to give the people homeopathy on the NHS. I teach homeopathy to doctors at the NHS Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and now look forward to many, many more years doing so.
Anyway your comments are no worse than the many ad hominem insults I have had hurled at me by people who without any study of philosophy, arrogantly assume their scientistic and deterministic view of life is the exclusive truth and that any other viewpoint is there to be trashed. Thank heavens both this Government and the last one agreed with me rather than with people like you, but that should not deter you from still believing that your view should have been forced on the people whether they wanted it or not.
,

@Dyson It does not get more simple than this: When a patient comes to a nhs hospital with a problem. a doctor with 7 years of study and many years of studying homeopathz. reckons that the best medicine for the problem is homeopathy. afteranalysing the problem. Dyson do you think that this doctor, with all his experience should be allowed to give the patient the medicine which he thinks is the correct one for him? Or do you think he can only give the patient medicines which the government will allow him to use, which he thinks would be less effective than homeopathy? Looking forward to hearing from you Dyson, I am interested in what you think about that.

From reading today’s ‘Guarniad’ we can now look forward to a College of Medicine which will continue to explore what is in the patients’ best interests and develops on the work at the Royal College of General Practice where many have been exercised over the inclusion of various divergent methods to enrich conventional practice- the keystone has been effective listening to the patient. Listening to the delivery of the case history was espoused by my surgical professor as the surest way to an accurate diagnosis. Homeopathy has particularly honed this skill and amongst my NHS GP colleagues there are many who value their exposure to homeopathic training for this learning experience alone (worth having a decco at Kaplan’s book on the subject). 60% of GPs in Scotland have had a basic homeopathic education and the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital is a leading light having wards of in-patient beds which the Scottish NHS insists on funding due to the manifest benefit of this facility.

On A more humanistic note:

I was recently struck by some quotes from Professor Sir Karl Popper’s : The Open Society and its Enemies ISBN 0-415-04031-0

1. Pericles of Athens (about 430 B.C.) ‘Although only a few may originate a policy,we are all able to judge it.’

2. Plato of Athens (about 350 B.C.) ‘The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all of his own initiative; neither out of zeal, nor even playfully. But in war and in the midst of peace -to his leader he shall direct his eye and follow him faithfully. And even in the smallest matter he should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals…only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it.’

3. Immanuel Kant 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804
‘I do not wish to hide the fact that I can only look with repugnance…upon the puffed-up pretentiousness of all these volumes filled with wisdom, such as are fashionable nowadays. For I am fully satisfied that…the accepted methods must endlessly increase these follies and blunders, and that even the complete annihilation of all these fanciful achievements could not possibly be as harmful as this fictitious science with its accursed fertility.’

These arguments, like mud pies, could be cast by either side in the current debate. Just thankful we seem to be in the clutches of a government which appears more keen on an open society. This bears the consequences of shouldering budgetary responsibilities and the honour to our profession of taking upon itself the cudgels of shrewd stewardship in the interests of long term patient safety and health management.

And on a scientific note:

There is actual SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that homeopathy works and 2 publications on this in the last week:

Klocke P, Ivemeyer S, Butler G, Maeschli A, Heil F. A randomized controlled trial to compare the use of homeopathy and internal Teat Sealers for the prevention of mastitis in organically farmed dairy cows during the dry period and 100 days post-calving. Homeopathy 2010, 99: 90-98.

Nobel laureate’s research may explain homeopathic medicines’ action.

On 28 June 2010 during the prestigious 60 anniversary conference of Nobel Laureates held in Germany, Prof. Luc Montagnier, postulated a mechanism that he considers may explain how homeopathic medicines’ informational content is created and maintained. Montagnier, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his discovery of the link between HIV and AIDS, gave a lecture entitled ‘DNA between physics and biology’ based on his own research. He reported findings from his research that some DNA sequences belonging to pathogenic bacteria and viruses are able to induce specific structures of nanometric size in water. When sufficiently diluted in water, these structures emit a spectrum of electromagnetic waves of low frequencies. During the conference he astonished his colleagues by postulating that his results may suggest the long sought after explanation for the mechanism of action of homeopathic medicines.

References: Conference Abstract: http://www.lindau-nobel.org/AbstractDetails.AxCMS?AbstractID=1102 Related journal article: Electromagnetic signals are produced by aqueous nanostructures derived from bacterial DNA sequences http://www.springerlink.com/content/0557v31188m3766x/

and interestingly:

A comparison of placebo-controlled randomised clinical trials (RTCs) found that the placebo effect was equally strong (or weak) in conventional medicine as in homeopathy. In a systematic review of placebo-controlled double-blind RCTs of classical homeopathy researchers matched existing homeopathy trials with trials in conventional medicine. Each homeopathy trial was compared to three conventional trials treating the same medical diagnosis. A total of 25 homeopathic RCTs were included. Out of these 13 homeopathic trials had a larger and 12 had a lower placebo effect compared to conventional trials (p=0.39). The authors conclude that: ‘Placebo effects in RCTs on classical homeopathy were not larger than placebo effects in conventional medicine.’

Reference: Rüdtke R, Nuhn T, Garaedts M. Placebo effects in homeopathic and conventional drugs. 5 International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research (ICCMR), Abstract book, 2010, O-089: 35.

Hope Randi’s got his million handy!

@Andrew Sikorski Thanks very much for this wise philosophical viewpoint. Your input into this struggle was considerable. It is heartening that in the end the Government decided not to be bullied by a braying, jeering mob of scientistic totalatarians and yahoos into acting against the wishes of a sizeable minority of national insurance paying citizens of the UK. In spite of much of the popular press (including some intelligent columnists who should have known better but who will remain nameless here as I have taken the wise advice of Ben Franklin not ‘to quarrel with a man who buys his ink by the barrel’.) taking their side, liberty and democracy and respect for minority views carried the day. It is of note that many infantile, lame and very old insults by the junior BMA doctors about ‘witchcraft’ and ‘nonsense on stilts’ were given oxygen in the media while our political victory was hardly reported. Worst of all was the distasteful ‘demonstration’ by those youngsters in naff teeshirts calling themselves 10:23. Have they got nothing better to do with their time than to try to deprive others of their right to choose what sort of doctors they would like to be treated by? It is hardly surprising that these people are anything but gracious in defeat. One of them even suggested that I might be ‘silently cursing’ the Government’s decision as a ban on NHS homeopathy would have been to my financial benefit! This in spite of the years we spent fighting this battle. Still in the final analysis a lot of what our detractors did in this debate said a lot more about their own characters than about us or homeopathy in general.

@DrKaplan
I belive in patients receiving the best possible care, which I assume will be the care with the best available evidence base. That is all. Philosophical aspects aside, I don’t think many will disagree. The interaction between patient and carer is not one way, and I appreciate that you and other homeopaths provide “added value” in respect of your remedies, but they are essentially elaborate placebos IMHO.

Your view on the “rights” of patients to choose their treatments and what sort of doctors they wish to be treated by is interesting. Peoples right to choose extends to many things which often are not advisable or desirable. Do you have a view on the rights of people to choose a doctor who will carry out female circumcision?

@Paul,
Yes, I do think doctors should be able to choose the medicines they wish to give to their patients, but again one can try and draw distinctions between what is effective, ineffective, safe and dangerous. Would you support a doctor’s choice to administer thalidomide to your pregnant wife? An extreme example, I know, but doctors often have restrictions applied to their own prescribing choices for a good reason. Re homeopathy, I would expect any doctor worth his/her salt to appreciate that in giving a homeopathic remedy they are essentially using a placebo (and until someone can come up with solid evidence that homeopathic remedies consistently outperform placebo in adequate clinical trials this will remain my view).
I think these things are best paid for by the patient outside the NHS, which could better use the money elsewhere.

@Dyson Your viewpoint is understood and respected but I profoundly disagree with several points:
1. Re: remedies are ‘essentially elaborate placebos’. You need to understand that homeopaths do not accept this and do not feel that it has been proved either. If we did we would not waste thousands of hours studying them. You are entitled to your humble opinion and I am entitled to mine.
2. On patients ‘rights’: No I don’t think that patients have the right to dictate to doctors what treatment they should get and this has never been the case here. To get homeopathy on the NHS you have to be referred to an homeopathic doctor by your GP and it is the ‘right’ of your GP to refuse to do so. Homeopathy’s detractors wanted to remove that right and THWART rather than attempt to dissuade GPs from doing so. That, IMHO, was illiberal and anti-democratic.
3. On NHS funding: Either there is a standard of EBM for funding or there is not. To use one exclusively against homeopathy is disingenuous. Any standard introduced would hit large swathes of conventional interventions (eg SSRI anti-depressants – interesting article on their SEs in Pulse today) as well. If you want to champion EBM, by all means do so, but anyone who uses it as a blunt instrument to attack homeopathy exclusively, is going to be labelled by me as being disingenuous. If you think I’m being unfair or irrational here, please show me where.

I was excited to find your blog through provocative therapy.co.uk, but I am disappointed to see your rather emotive, indignant rant in support of homeopathy. The two in my mind are thoroughly opposed, and intrinsically identical.

Provocation (stuffixes) works upon the assumption that the victim has within them the ability to be healthy and happy. No measurably valuable input goes into the victim (it sounds like jokes and abuse), and yet they respond positively. Same with homeopathy.

Provokers thrust their victim into the mindset of following a negative pattern, and break it with humour, demanding that they rework their perception of the problem rapidly. It’s just a mind game.

So is homeopathy.

That’s why single blind testing works but double blind doesn’t. They test it again and again and James Randi offers one million dollars for the proof of its efficacy. The science is bunk, but the value is real.

People have a placebo thrust upon them and they believe it so it works. Well.

But it’s a lie. Should the NHS cover it? I don’t know. Probably not, I feel it insults my scientific idealism.

We would have to completely throw out our current HEAVILY researched, tested and validated models of the nature of H20 molecules, twist models of immunology and lose a few IQ points to ever look objectively at homeopathy and go: Yeah that seems sane.

If you really trusted in people’s ability to change themselves, you’d give them the choice to know how it’s happening so they may become powerful even without your expensive magic water. That’s what a really provocative therapist would do – show them the hilarious truth and let them be changed.

I keep a rather skeptical blog but am obsessed with the work of Frank Farrelly and hence Provocative and that’s how I found you. Excuse the tirade, I didn’t come here for a cyber-debate but rather a cordial hello! Please excuse my former me, he got quite heated.

This one thinks you’re welcome to whichever loopy opinion you choose. I believe that racism is hilarious.

@Harry Thanks for commenting on my blog. I’m glad you love Provocative Therapy; I am totally passionate about it and am happy to talk to anyone about it at any time. Btw the founder of Provocative Therapy, Frank Farrelly supports homeopathic medicine. See what he says about it on his website here.

My ‘rant’ was not about homeopathy; it was a political rant lamenting the disrespect shown to liberty and democracy by those who think that their scientistic views should naturally trump the democratic rights of a sizeable minority of the British public whom they clearly regard as ignorant and needing to be protected from themselves. My point is very simple: Either the NHS has a standard of evidence that must be passed by any intervention it funds – or not. To pay for many orthodox interventions that are less than evidence based (eg SSRI anti-depressants in most cases of mild and moderate depression) and then cut funding for homeopathy saying that it ‘lacks evidence’ is disingenuous. In my opinion it is homeopathy’s ‘implausibility’ that irritates its detractors (as it does you) but for them relentlessly to cite lack of evidence is blisteringly hypocritical.s

Anyway the good guys won this one so I’ll be blogging a lot more about Provocative Therapy now. It was always what I wanted to write about, but I felt morally obliged to defend homeopathy. One day we might have a chat about how listening to tens of thousands of life stories in the homeopathic way really set me up to be a Provocative Therapist.

Nice to hear from you.
Brian

[...] – which exposes the shocking lack of rigour in this report. The S&T Committees report did not lead to the banning of homeopathy on the NHS, despite the lobbyists pressure, and Earl Baldwin led a [...]

Earl Baldwin’s critique on the Science and Technology Committee’s low quality, biased and deeply flawed report is worthy of careful study and can be read here.

It is an very good decision by the british government as this system of medicine proved its efficacy in all the countries.

[...] Brian.  “It’s Official! British Government backs NHS Homeopathy.” 26 July 2010.   [...]

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