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Professional Standards Authority suspends accreditation of Society of Homeopaths

The Professional Standards Authority (PSA), an independent but statutory safeguarding organisation that regulates and registers professionals working in the fields of health and social care, has suspended accreditation of the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) after repeated concerns were raised about the practices of some of its members. This suspension, which comes into force from today, will be enforced for one year after which it can be reviewed. Humanists UK has welcomed the suspension.

Concerns about SoH’s promotion of ‘CEASE therapy,’ which stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression, instigated a review of the Society’s accreditation. ‘CEASE therapy’ promotes the false claim that vaccines are linked to the development of autism in children, and that this can be counteracted through high doses of vitamin C, homeopathic pills, and dietary restrictions.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We welcome this long-overdue decision. The accreditation of the Society of Homeopaths gave public false confidence that the “treatments” offered by its members are safe and credible when this is far from the case. The Society’s failure to comply with even the most basic conditions to ensure public safety and compliance with their own ethical code shows that it is not fit to be recognised as a medical body.’

What led to the decision

These concerns were raised by senior NHS figures, including NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens, who stated that ‘The PSA accreditation of the Society of Homeopaths gives a false impression to the public that their treatments are clinically and scientifically established and that the treatments practitioners offer should be as trusted as other health and care practitioners accredited by the PSA. This is a vital issue at a time when there is a rise of misinformation about vaccines — some of which is apparently promoted by homeopaths — and which poses a significant danger to human health.’

The Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes science and campaigns against pseudoscience founded by Humanists UK’s patron Simon Singh, also launched a legal challenge against the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) over its decision to continue to accredit SoH in 2019.

Despite these criticisms and the legal challenge, the PSA renewed the Society’s 2020 accreditation subject to the condition that its position statements make clear that registrants must not practise CEASE, practise or advertise adjunctive therapies, or provide advice on vaccination. Following a review, the PSA found that these conditions have not been met. It stated it ‘was concerned that a focus on public protection was not evident in terms of how the SoH was addressing concerns raised about its registrants’ compliance with its Code of Ethics and position statements.’

The PSA further found that ‘the SoH did not appear to have prioritised public protection over professional interests in its handling of complaints or governance processes…This led to risks to the public from homeopathy being offered as an alternative for serious conditions such as depression, arthritis, and autoimmune conditions that require medical supervision.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the accreditation decision of the Professional Standards Authority.

Read more about our work on ‘complementary and alternative medicine’.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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