Saturday, October 6, 2012

Homeopathy on the NHS?

A recent rant on Labour List attacked the UK Social Health Association for its position on Homeopathy on the NHS. The author concluded:

"It’s bad enough to have a Conservative Secretary of State for Health that supports an utterly farcical and unsubstantiated form of treatment for patients but we are in no position to hold him to account unless our own Labour family is united. To have our own affiliated organisations support this position requires an immediate and decisive response, so that this issue does not distract us from our fight to ensure that we have a world class National Health Service."

The UK SHA response was “Homeopathy does no harm and its cheap. NHS wastes money in much worse ways”.

A number of SHA Scotland members asked what our position was in light of this debate. The last time this issue was debated was in our submission to the 2005 Scottish Labour policy review when we said:

"SHA Scotland believes that alternative and complimentary therapies have a significant role to play in NHS treatment. The success of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital is a good example of provision that should be supported including the retention of in-patient beds."

The debate on Homeopathy in Scotland has widened in recent weeks. As budget cuts impact health boards are beginning to question this provision. NHS Lothian is currently consulting on the issue and NHS Highland have come out firmly against. The debate is covered well in this BBC piece.

To sum up each side of the debate.


The British Medical Association, believes there should be no further NHS funding for homeopathy, They argue that scarce resources are being spent on a treatment with "no scientific evidence base to support its use". The 2010 report by the cross-party House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, found there was no evidence beyond a placebo effect - where a patient gets better because of their belief that the treatment works.


The Faculty of Homeopathy says it is "not accurate" to say there is no evidence for homeopathy. They claim that the conclusions drawn from studies have been "cherry-picked" by opponents and that there is evidence for the effectiveness of its treatments. They also claim that homeopathy is a safe, cost-effective alternative which can actually save the NHS money.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Surely any treatment should be based on whether it works or not. The fact it does not do "harm" is not good enough. Homeopathy may have a placebo effect, but that is not enough reason to fund it. Google "Ben Goldacre homeopathy" to see the science around the efficacy of homeopathy.