Homeopaths in Scotland are offering alternatives to vaccinations that doctors say could leave patients vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases, according to a BBC investigation.
Three alternative practitioners told a BBC investigation they gave patients a homeopathic medicine designed to replace the MMR vaccine.
The documentary also discovered the Scottish NHS is spending more money per person on homeopathy than in England.
The investigation examined claims that members of the Homeopathic Medical Association, which has around 300 members across the UK, were offering replacement vaccines. It approached the association’s six members in Scotland.
Doctors said the replacement of vaccines such as MMR with homeopathic alternatives and remedies was “extremely worrying”.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association’s director of science and ethics, told the programme: “Replacing proven vaccines, tested vaccines, vaccines that are used globally and we know are effective with homeopathic alternatives where there is no evidence of efficacy, no evidence of effectiveness, is extremely worrying because it could persuade families that their children are safe and protected when they’re not.
“And some of those children will go on to get the illness.”
She said some children may go on “even to die” which would be a tragedy when a family thinks it has protected its children.
Dr Nathanson also said funding for Glasgow’s Homeopathic Hospital should stop until an “evidence base” on which patients they can help was created.
The programme found that GPs in Scotland are prescribing at least 10 times as many homeopathic medicines per person as their colleagues in England.
Freedom of Information requests for the programme revealed that the Scottish NHS is spending around £1.5m on homeopathy - almost a third of the estimated UK spend of £4m.
Freedom of Information requests for the programme also found that around half of Scotland’s Health Boards provided some funding for the discipline.
The programme, called Magic or Medicine - Homeopathy and the NHS, is broadcast on Monday (13 September) at 7.30pm on BBC One Scotland.