NHS spent $4 million in ’09 on homeopathic hospitals

Via the Times Online:

The NHS should stop funding all homeopathic medicine, the House of Commons science watchdog said yesterday. The cross-party group said there was no evidence that homeopathic remedies had anything other than a placebo effect.

The NHS spends about £4 million a year on homeopathy, paying for prescriptions and supporting the running of four homeopathic hospitals.

Phil Willis, the chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said that government policies on homeopathy were not based on sound evidence: “It sets an unfortunate precedent for the Department of Health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homeopathy works is ‘evidence’ enough to continue spending public money on it.”

The NHS spends £152,000 a year — 0.001 per cent of its total drug budget — on homeopathic prescriptions. The Government was unable to provide figures for how much it contributes to the running costs of four homeopathic hospitals — one in Glasgow and three in England. Mike O’Brien, the Health Minister, said that the budget was probably less than £12 million.

If the report’s recommendations are accepted by the Government it would spell the end of state support for the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. The committee also said that homeopathic products should no longer be labelled with medical claims without evidence of efficacy, and should not be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The report is likely to anger complementary medicine advocates, including the Prince of Wales. Michael Dixon, the medical director of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, said: “We should not abandon those we cannot help with conventional scientific medicine. If homeopathy is getting results for those patients, then of course we should continue to use it.”

Professor Edzard Ernst, a specialist in alternative medicine who gave evidence in the inquiry, said: “The foundation is a lobby group for unproven treatments which has repeatedly tried to mislead the public.” The committee said doctors who prescribe placebos risk damaging the trust between them and their patients. “There’s a real ethical question. It’s caustic to a system that is supposed to be evidence based,” said Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat science spokesman.

Fark’s headline writer nails it:

Suggestion: this year, give each hospital £10, and tell them it will work better ’cause it’s diluted [.]


One Response

  1. Just give the homeopathic hospitals tons (literally) of sugar pills and a label printer.

    Or fake sugar pills for the diabetics

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