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BMA votes against homeopathy funding


The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for homeopathic remedies to be banned on the NHS and removed from pharmacies where they are for sale as medicines.

Medics at a BMA conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of banning homeopathic remedies being funded by the NHS and withdrawing backing for the UK’s four homeopathic hospitals. They added that NHS doctors should not be given homeopathy training and remedies should be taken off shelves “labelled medicines” and put on shelves “labelled placebos”.

Homeopathic treatments have been funded by the NHS since it was formed in 1948 and are different to herbal medicine as they are based around substances being diluted many times, something the conference claimed has been proven not to work.

MPs said back in February that the NHS should withdraw funding on homeopathic treatments as there is no substantial evidence to show that they work any better than a placebo - the same as taking a sugar or dummy pill and believing it works. They also said the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow homeopathic medicines to carry medical claims on their labels.

London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow all house homeopathic hospitals in the UK. Estimates on how much the NHS spends on homeopathy vary, with the Society of Homeopaths putting the figure at £4 million a year including the cost of running hospitals.


Readers' comments (31)

  • I suggest that if you are interested in some critical thought about homeopathy that you visit Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog site - I am rather fond of the merchandise and buy Nutritionist mugs for all my dietitian friends.

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  • I am a registered nurse and a qualified homoeopathic practitioner.

    I am LIVID about how this gang of arrogant bullies (the allopathic medical community), continue to pick on homoeopathic medicine - this has occured many many times over the years, and indeed the blood letters and mercury prescribers in the day of Samuel Hahneman (the founder of homoeopathy) bullied him incessantly about the efficacy of homoeopathic medicine. Even tho he consistently achieved cure after cure, and patients were queuing a mile outside his door.

    The crux of the issue is that allopaths, and especially the drug company tzars cannot PATENT homoeopathic medicine, therefore cannot make money from it or exploit it. I can assure you that this issue wasn't originally highlighted by allopathic doctors, but planted as a 'flea in the ear' by the drug companies.

    They are justifing their mistrust of Homoeopathy by the fact that it costs the NHS £10m per year. this is a drop in the ocean of the NHS expenditure, and is no threat to orthodox medicine.

    A homoeopathic drug has NEVER killed anyone - can we say the same about modern medicine? I work on an oncology surgical ward.. a lot of patient's die from the unnecessary butchery i see on a daily basis.

    I'm aware that I'm going to get a lot of stick from this, so go on, do your best or instead, open your mind to treatments that are not seemingly 'understood' by science, but are still as effective.

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  • Anonymous | 30-Jun-2010 3:11 pm:
    I'm also a trained/registered nurse and homeopath and fully support what you've written.

    I would also argue that neither doctors nor pharmaceutical companies are anywhere near the best representatives of scientific thought or process judging by the hysterics and misinformation I've read.

    I would also suggest to the first comment that Ben Goldacre is not a balanced or accurate in his 'critical thought' based on what I've read of his writings so far.

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  • In addition to Bad Science I'd also recommend Trick or Treatment by Simon Singh.

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  • In response to the first post - you've missed the point a bit if you're buying your dietitian friends "Nutritionist" cups. The former is a trained and registered practitioner whilst the latter is a self proclaimed title.

    In response to post two: Drug companies may not be able to patent a homeopathic remedy but they could just make them themselves and make lots of money out of them, fortunately though they have to be able to prove beyond bias that their drugs are effective, and given that this is not the case with homeopathic remedies they would be unable to market them.

    It's disappointing that there are RN's out there supporting treatment for which there is no evidence base and using emotive arguments that lack substance to support something that they "believe" in.

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  • "Aren't the royal family big fans of homeopathic medicine? I think the Queen mother was in particular and look how well she stayed over the years and what a long life she had."

    Obviously you're joking. We have no idea what the ins and outs of the QM's health issues were or how they were addressed. Money may well have been a factor in her longevity plus I would imagine fairly immediate access to the best medical resources.

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  • Phil Dup

    Good show the BMA.... homeopathy is junk pseudo-science that can not be proven using the scientific method - its akin to astrology, water dowsing or talking to the 'dead' via mediums...... it may give some comfort to the worried well but that doesnt mean it should be funded by the taxpayer and the NHS.
    The NHS should use treatments based on sound scientific evidence - not hokus pokus.
    Why not open some NHS Voodoo Walk in Centres or some NHS Wicca Clinics to really make sure we get a well balanced approach to medicine !
    Perhaps we can also have some new Basic Life Support guidelines that involve :

    1) Check Airway
    2) Assess breathing / circulation
    3) Check patients "chakra"
    4) commence CPR

    Just a thought.

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  • Phil Dup

    And just to add the first post mentioned Ben Goldacres 'Bad Science' blog - a most excellent blog indeed.
    Dr Goldacre is as rigorous in his condemnation of 'mainstream' money grubbing pharnaceutical corporations as he is of crank psuedo medical treatments.

    Check it out:

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  • Anonymous | 30-Jun-2010 3:11 pm wrote :

    " it costs the NHS £10m per year. this is a drop in the ocean of the NHS expenditure "

    Hmmm some food for thought there - as Homeopathy works on a similiar principle of a drop of substance in an ocean of water then perhaps if we dilute down that £10m per year spending to say a tenner per year this Homeopathy nonsense would be even more effective !

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  • If you would like to read another perspective on this issue I suggest Sense about Science...

    copied from the site 02/07/10
    "Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust. We respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation. We work with scientists and civic groups to promote evidence and scientific reasoning in public discussion.

    Our recent and current priorities include alternative medicine, MRI, detox, radiation, health tests, the status of evidence in public health advice, an educational resource on peer review, the public language of science, the impact of libel law and independent scientific advice."

    BTW, the nutritionist mug has the picture of a yellow rubber duck on it, a source of amusement for dietitians, I promise.

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