David Tredennick MP, a keen advocate of homeopathy, has tabled an ‘Early Day Motion’ in support of the NHS funding more research into homeopathy – a motion which, worryingly, has support from cross-party MPs. EDM 1820 asks the House of Commons to welcome ‘the campaign by the Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) to place homeopathy research on the national agenda as a credible scientific field of inquiry’ and calls for general public funding into homeopathic research and medicines.
Homeopathic ‘treatments’ have no evidential basis in their claims of effectiveness and it is the BHA’s position that it is outrageous that the NHS is funding the provision and testing of homeopathy. Further, we believe that, in today’s climate where NHS budgets are being cut, and science funding is tiny already and greatly at risk, any further research into homeopathic treatments – which have already been proven beyond doubt not to work – is distinctly unethical.
In 2010, parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee recommended that the government ‘should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS’ and in the same year, doctors at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference voted 3 to 1 to ban NHS funding for homeopathic remedies.
Basically, EDM 1820 is asking for more public funding of research into something that has already been proven beyond doubt not to work.
So, the BHA alerted Dr Julian Huppert MP, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group, who acted quickly to table an amendment to it, which rather changes the focus! Dr Huppert’s amendment correctly reminds the House that there is no clinical evidence whatsoever that these remedies work and that therefore government funding and availability on the NHS is unjustified.
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And here are the two versions of the statement, the first the original, and the second the far more sensible amended version!
That this House welcomes the campaign by the Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) to place homeopathy research on the national agenda as a credible scientific field of inquiry; notes that the HRI is an innovative charity that does not promote the practice of homeopathy itself, but rather promotes and facilitates scientific research into homeopathy, of which the most controversial aspect is the use of highly diluted medicines; acknowledges that, in the UK, the practice of homeopathy has been part of the National Health Service (NHS) since its inception, and since that time homeopathic medicines have been prescribable to patients; observes that the Faculty of Homeopathy Act 1950 states that the public has access to homeopathy under the NHS so long as patients demand it and doctors are trained to provide it; and calls on the Government to facilitate research into this important area to ascertain the effectiveness of homeopathy.
…leave out from `House’ to end and add `notes that organisations such as the Homeopathy Research Institute are free to conduct their own scientific studies, if in accordance with ethical frameworks, but that they should be performed rigorously and avoid poor statistics, confirmation bias and other flaws that have plagued some studies; agrees with the conclusions of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s Fourth Report of Session 2009-10, Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy, HC 45, that putting patients through pointless further clinical trials, and the spending of scarce public sector funds on research into homeopathy cannot be justified; observes that the Faculty of Homeopathy Act 1950 does not state that “the public has access to homeopathy under the NHS so long as patients demand it and doctors are trained to provide it”, but highlights that documents from the Faculty must specifically carry a disclaimer that they do not provide a legal qualification to practice homeopathy and is not sanctioned by Government; further notes that millions of pounds each year of NHS resources are spent on homeopathic treatments that have no evidence of clinical effect; and accepts that people are entitled to spend their own money as they see fit, but calls on the Government to stop funding homeopathic treatments and hospitals using public funds.’
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.