The Debating Society of University College London met last night. The motion was: This House would stop the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.

The result was close but a heart-warming win for the supporters of NHS homeopathy.

For the Motion: 71
Against the Motion: 78
Abstentions: 41

This was most heartening as there were very few outside people present. The room was packed with students and the atmosphere was lively.

Some of you might remember the last time UCL debated this topic. That was two years ago, site when the result went against the provision of NHS homeopathy. You can see my report on that debate here.

The only survivor from the first debate was Prof. David Colquhoun who gave his boiler plate speech about the implausibility of homeopathy while having little to say about freedom of choice and democracy. Clare Stanford, mind opposing him, pilule seemed to agree that homeopathy might be placebo (sic), but argued that it should still be on the NHS. I managed to speak from the floor and get a few words in about liberty, democracy, and freedom of choice for patients and GPs.

It’s hard to say if this signifies that the tide is turning towards homeopathy but at least the students of UCL did not vote for a Soviet Union style motion emphasizing the need for State control and coercion of doctors. As I’ve always said: You can only get to see a doctor on the NHS if your GP refers you. We don’t need diktats from Westminster restricting and thwarting the clinical judgement of our NHS GPs, thank you very much. So well done UCL!

Episode 2: Scientism with Liz and Ed.

By | 2010-10-26T20:06:46+00:00 October 26th, 2010|Current Affairs, Homeopathy|2 Comments

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  1. Ged Ridgway October 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that those in favour of the motion wanted “Soviet Union style … State control and coercion of doctors”; the motion was not to ban homeopathy, but to stop wasting NHS money on it. If an individual believes it will help them, then it’s clearly fine to allow them to pay privately to give it a go, but if the scientific evidence doesn’t support homeopathy, then should we spend public money on it instead of something like a clinically-proven (but perhaps expensive) novel cancer therapy?

    • Dr. Kaplan October 29, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Ged, Yes I’ve heard that argument many times. This is how I refute it:
      1. Everyone pays for the NHS through National Insurance so minority views about medicine should be respected.
      2. The Homeopathic hospitals in the UK have existed 150 years and INVITED to become part of the NHS at its inception.
      3. A bylaw in the 60s says that as long as there are patients who want it and there are doctors willing to provide it, it should be avaiilable on the NHS.
      4. Huge swathes of orthodox medicine lack evidence but are still used on the NHS.
      5. If EBM is the central point, then let the NHS set a level of evidence basis for inclusion on the NHS. The all interventions incl. homeopathy and SSRI antidepressants will compete on a level playing field. ie it’s disingenuous to use EBM against homeopathy EXCLUSIVELY
      6. Homeopathy is cost effective however it works – and nobody is saying it doesn’t work, they are saying it works by the placebo effect – as does much of ordinary medicine of course.
      I could go on…

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