After the Government decided to back NHS homeopathy on 26 July, the whingeing of homeopathy’s detractors has been something to behold. Although I sincerely congratulated the Government on striking a blow for democracy and liberty in making this decision, I can understand how aghast and horrified those I’ve dubbed the Disciples of Scientism are now feeling. It is inexplicable, outrageous and irrational to them that their powerful attempt to thwart (rather than dissuade) NHS GPs from being able to refer patients to NHS homeopathic doctors at NHS homeopathic hospitals, was ultimately unsuccessful. In the end democracy trumped scientism. Perhaps those with a scientistic orientation took Winston Churchill too seriously when he said: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” My view is that even if that were true, democracy is still the best political system available. And in this democracy it was clear to everybody that the two main parties in the adversarial system were both against banning NHS homeopathy. Mike O’Brien, the ex-Labour Minister of health said it would be ‘illiberal’ to cut funding NHS homeopathy and Coalition Minister of Health, Anne Milton, booted the anti-democratic recommendations of The Science and Technology Committee into touch.
Homeopathy’s detractors have no inclination to accept either the will of the people or the decisions of this Government or the last. They clearly know they are right and do not wish to be confused by facts, democracy or DoH decisions. Although temporarily bloodied, they will surely re-group and attack again; they cannot help but do this. As Prof. Edzard Ernst, a major player in the failed campaign to delegitimise NHS homeopathy whined on the Pulse website: “In the final analysis, it is also about the patient who got an unfair deal which will deprive many of effective therapies.” What about all those patients who benefited hugely from NHS homeopathy whatever Ernst thinks was the reason for their recovery?
Another disappointed critic, Prof. Michael Baum, moans in the current edition of The Lancet of the decision of the DoH to back patient choice: “Using this kind of logic, why not offer astrology on the NHS to help women decide when to induce labour?” Do GPs want to send pregnant women to astrologers? No. Do they want to refer them to homeopathic doctors. Yes a significant number do, otherwise the homeopathic hospitals could not exist. No need to mention the fact that the homeopathic hospitals were invited to be part of the NHS at its inception in 1948. No need to mention the many outcome trials that show that patients visiting homeopathic hospitals express a high degree of satisfaction – and these are patients that were not generally helped by conventional medicine.
I am grateful to the Government for upholding liberty and democracy in this country and to all those who fought long and hard (against the odds – given our resources and media exposure compared to our opponents’) to win this battle. However the time has come for me to focus again on clinical issues – in particular my passion for a whole person medicine approach in medicine in general and in particular on Provocative Therapy, the cutting edge in the use of reverse psychology and humorous insights in psychotherapy.
In my next post: Why Provocative Therapy is very different from Laughter Therapy or ‘Laughter Yoga’