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Humanists UK advocates ending homeopathy prescriptions across the NHS

Homeopathic pills.

NHS England is currently holding a public consultation on new guidance for all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) recommending ceasing prescriptions for several treatments including all homeopathic and herbal treatments. NHS England is recommending that CCGs should no longer prescribe either of these treatments to new patients and to facilitate their removal from current patients. Humanists UK has responded to the consultation, welcoming the recommended changes.

According to NHS England ending prescriptions for homeopathy and herbal treatments will save the NHS £92,413 and £100,009 annually respectively. In detailing its rationale for this recommendation NHS England cited a 2010 report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which found that the use of homeopathy is not evidence-based and any benefits to patients are down to the placebo effect. Both treatments were deemed to be of low clinical effectiveness.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘Homeopathy and herbal medicine can be downright dangerous. Homeopathy works no better than placebo, and in fact with high street homeopaths willing to prescribe it as an alternative medicine for malaria, it is not something the NHS should add legitimacy to. And while some rare herbal treatments may be effective, others can have a harmful effects on health or interfere with the efficacy of conventional treatments. At the moment, lack of efficacy is not a barrier to the prescription of herbal treatments through CCGs.

‘Last year the CCGs in Liverpool and the Wirral both ceased funding homeopathy following legal challenges. There are currently only four CCGs in England that still prescribe these treatments outside of London, and they are in the process of consulting on ending this practice. Under these joint pressures – the legality of homeopathy funding being questionable and several CCGs being minded to already to remove all NHS funding – it is highly appropriate for NHS England to revise it guidance to reflect the growing trend away from homeopathy and other alternative medicines.’

Homeopathy is also funded in the UK in Scotland, but not in Wales or Northern Ireland.

Notes

For further comment or information contact Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy on 020 7324 3072 or at richy@humanism.org.uk.

This consultation invites submissions from the public and any relevant interest groups. Deadline for submission is 21 October.

Read our response: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017-07-26-RTR-NHS-England-Guidance-on-Prescription-consultation.pdf

Submit a response: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/items-routinely-prescribed/

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.

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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