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Outgoing scientific adviser criticises homeopathy

The use of homoeopathy by the NHS has been described as ‘mad’ by Professor Sir John Beddington, a former Government scientific adviser.  Sir John has also criticised the Government for ignoring his advice against the NHS funding of homeopathy.  The British Humanist Association (BHA), which opposes the NHS funding of homeopathy, welcomes Sir John’s comments.

Sir John retired as chief scientific adviser to the Government on 1 April.  As well as saying that homeopathy is ‘mad’, he also said: ‘It has no underpinning of scientific basis.  In fact all of the science points to the fact that it is not at all sensible.  The clear evidence is saying this is wrong, but homoeopathy is still used on the NHS.’  He said that his advice against the provision of homeopathy on the NHS was the only example during his five years as chief scientific adviser when his views had been ‘fundamentally ignored’ by the Government.

Homeopathy is a system based on treating patients with highly diluted substances.  The use of homeopathy costs the NHS between £4 million and £12 million a year, and there are three homoeopathic hospitals run by the NHS, in London, Bristol and Glasgow.  Sir John’s comments come after the recent remarks made by England’s chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, who said in January that homeopathy is ‘rubbish’.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented  ‘In order to ensure that its scarce resources are used effectively, the NHS should base its funding decisions on scientific evidence.  When framing health policy, the Government should also listen to scientific advisers who are knowledgeable about the evidence.  We very much welcome Sir John’s comments, and hope that his criticisms will prompt the Government to change their stance on NHS funding for homeopathy.’

 

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

The Telegraph – Homeopathy on the NHS is ‘mad’ says outgoing scientific adviser:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9982234/Homeopathy-on-the-NHS-is-mad-says-outgoing-scientific-adviser.html

The Guardian – Jeremy Hunt under fire for stance on NHS tribute, homeopathy and abortion: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/04/jeremy-hunt-nhs-tribute-homeopathy

Previous BHA news article – Homeopathy challenged in House of Lords debate:

http://humanism.org.uk/2013/03/20/homeopathy-challenged-in-house-of-lords-debate/

Previous BHA news article – England’s chief medical officer tells Commons Science and Technology committee that homeopathy is ‘rubbish’:

http://humanism.org.uk/2013/01/24/englands-chief-medical-officer-tells-commons-science-and-technology-committee-that-homeopathy-is-rubbish/

The BHA’s campaign on homeopathy:

http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/homeopathy/

 

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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