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Victory for humanists: NHS England to consult on ending homeopathy spending

NHS England has announced that it wants to cease funding homeopathic remedies and other treatments proven to have no efficacy, and has launched a consultation on the matter. The announcement is warmly greeted by Humanists UK, which has campaigned for an end to state funding of homeopathy for many years.

In announcing the historic change of policy, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens described the homeopathy as, ‘at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds.’ The change means that homeopathy will no longer be funded through the NHS in England, as is already the case in Northern Ireland and Wales. However, it will not impact the funding of homeopathy in parts of Scotland, or through Steiner schools in England which are funded by the Department for Education.

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific medical concept invented by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, which is based on the idea that ‘like cures like’. Homeopaths dilute substances thousands of times beyond the point of containing any of the original substance whatsoever, and then sell the resulting products in sugar pills as ‘cures’ for various diseases and ailments. In well over 200 years, no rigorous scientific test has ever shown efficacy for homeopathic remedies beyond that of a placebo.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We applaud NHS England for taking this evidence-based decision, whose consequence will be greater funding for important things like patient care, staffing, and medicines that really work. We very much hope to see these new guidelines brought into full effect before too long… undiluted!

‘For several years now, homeopathy funding has been steadily reduced as more and more local NHS trusts saw to apply rational thinking and common sense to their funding choices. However, the piecemeal nature of these decisions meant that many thousands of pounds were still being poured down the drain. We’re glad to see that, subject to consultation, the waste will now end in England as a whole, and we congratulate the Good Thinking Society and other campaigners who helped make this happen.

‘We’ll now be looking to intensify the pressure on NHS Scotland to follow the positive example set by Northern Ireland, Wales, and now England, and bring an end to this state-funded pseudoscience in the UK once and for all.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at richy@humanism.org.uk.

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

Recent years have seen a dramatic reduction in the availability of state-funded homeopathy. According to research by the Good Thinking Society, state funding of homeopathy has previously ended in Northern Ireland, Wales, Shetland, and the Western Isles of Scotland, as well as many parts of England. State-funded Steiner schools in the South West of England also promote homeopathy.

This consultation invites submissions from the public and patients, as well as Clinical Commissioning Groups and any relevant interest group or body. Read the NHS England consultation document: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/items-routinely-prescribed/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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