State-funded homeopathy no longer available in the North of England

Homeopathic pills

Homeopathic pills are no longer available at taxpayer’s expense in most of England.

Homeopathy is no longer available on the National Health Service for patients living in the North of England, following an announcement that the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has chosen to defund the scientifically unsupported treatment. The result is that in England only NHS Trusts around Bristol and London continue funding homeopathy, and the Bristol trusts are also now to review this fact. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has long campaigned for an end to state funding of homeopathy nationally, has welcomed the move.

NHS bodies across England, Wales, and Scotland are thought to spend altogether between £4 and £5 million each year on homeopathy, despite the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence suggesting that such ‘treatments’ have no efficacy beyond that of a placebo. For decades, the BHA and others have pointed to expert evidence, a widespread scientific consensus, and broader ethical concerns, to argue against the taxpayer’s continued funding of it. These concerns have intensified in recent years as UK commissioning groups have found themselves under increased strain from slashed budgets and significant internal reorganisations.

The most recent action comes after the CCG in Wirral announced earlier in the year that it would be consulting on the future of its homeopathy procurement, after being challenged by the Good Thinking Society, which is chaired by BHA patron Simon Singh. Hundreds of people from around the country and, importantly, in the local area, responded to the consultation after prompting from Good Thinking and with support from the BHA.

Commenting on the news, BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal said, ‘We are delighted that NHS officials in Wirral have decided that precious NHS funds should be reserved for real treatments with a proven track record of efficacy, and we would like to to see these decisions mirrored by those remaining NHS trusts in Britain which still fund homeopathy.

‘By reinvesting these funds in patient care, staff time, and the availability of proven medicines and treatments, commissioning groups across the North of England have set a very strong example to the rest of the country by favouring evidence-based medicine over woo, superstition, and snake oil.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns at pavan@humanism.org.uk.

Our campaign on homeopathy: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/ethical-and-scientific-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.

Recent years have seen a dramatic reduction in the availability of state-funded homeopathy. According to research by the Good Thinking Society, state-funded homeopathy is no longer available in Northern Ireland, the North of England, the Midlands, the South East, or East Anglia. It is, however, still funded to the tune of several million pounds per year by NHS trusts across Scotland, Wales, London, and the South West, and there is also some state funding of homeopathy in state-funded Steiner schools in the south-west.

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