Posted by: Kash Farooq | August 28, 2010

Nottinghamshire NHS and Homeopathy

In light of the government deciding that it is up to the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) around the country to decide if they wish to fund homeopathy or not, I decided to write to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire PCTs.

The email I sent is below. Most of it was shamelessly stolen from @medtek (Thanks @medtek!).

EDIT: I have received a response.

I sent this on 30th July 2010. After not receiving a response, and wanting to do my Skeptics with a K homework, I re-sent the email on 27th August 2010.

This time I received a response:

Thank you for your enquiry.

A response/statement is currently being produced to answer your enquiry, this should be with you next week.

Apologises for any inconvenience.

Regards

NHS Nottinghamshire County

Mike Hall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society has since informed that:

Nottingham City PCT and Nottinghamshire County PCT do not commission homeopathy.

That’s great news.

However, once they respond and confirm what Mike told me, I will move on to the next stage. I will suggest that they make an official announcement, as was made by the Greater Manchester Medicines Management Group. This group covers ten PCTs and effectively means that Greater Manchester is a homeopathy free zone (as far as the NHS is concerned).

Who knows? It may work. I should have a direct contact by then (rather than having to send my request to the generic “Enquiries” email address).

I hope Nottinghamshire will make a similar public announcement – there is no place for homeopathy on the NHS.

Email I sent to Nottinghamshire PCT (adapted from the one @medtek sent to her PCT):


Hello,

I offer in advance my apologies in advance if I have sent this to the wrong email address. Please can you ensure that it finds the appropriate person(s)?

I live in West Bridgford and in the light of Parliament’s buck-passing to the PCT of the Science and Technology committee’s recommendations on homeopathy, I am writing to discover what my PCT’s stance is on the subject.

As you know, the Science and Technology committee concluded that homeopathy is not efficacious and has no basis in science, and Parliament appears to agree.  A rigorous review of studies into homeopathy over many years has certainly convinced most scientists that homeopathy is not an effective treatment.  I agree with the Committee (and the BMA) that homeopathy is not a good use of NHS funds and should not be available on the NHS.  In this time of severe budget cuts and denial of even basic surgeries (like hip replacements) to patients I find it ludicrous that money should be wasted on what are essentially sugar pills.  If you believe this is harsh, consider for a moment that there are several UK homeopaths who offer remedies made from a thunderstorm, a shipwreck, the Berlin Wall and the light of Venus.

I do not believe “patient choice” is a reason to offer homeopathy. What happens if a patient chooses some other pseudoscientific treatment? Would Nottinghamshire PCT be happy to offer magnetic  therapy, faith healing or crystal therapy? Where is the line drawn?  Why is homeopathy special?

There is no evidence homeopathy works beyond a placebo effect – if Nottinghamshire PCT feels that prescribing a placebo is the correct treatment in some instances, may I remind you that homeopathy pills are very expensive placebos. Just arm physicians with a supply of sugar pills labelled with complex-sounding names and instruct them to perform complex rituals to convince the patient that they are real medicine.  This would be no different than homeopathy, and certainly much cheaper.  Of course, most physicians would refuse to do this because they are professionals who do not feel that lying to patients is ethical.

This action by Parliament also serves another dire purpose.  It perpetuates worldwide the illusion that this superstitious practice somehow has some validity. This is dangerous. We have already seen homeopaths around the world touting cures for AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria, Cancer of all sorts, alternatives to vaccinations, and other serious illnesses.

Patients should have a choice of proven, scientifically valid treatments, provided by the professional of their choice, at the facility of their choice.  If patients want homeopathy and other ineffective treatments based in pseudoscience, let them pay for it with their own money, not mine.

I implore Nottinghamshire PCT to publicly and implicitly state that it will not fund any homeopathy activity for its patients in order to send a clear message that homeopathy is not medicine, is not credible, and is not appropriate for a National Health Service.

If you require documentation of any of the statements I have asserted here beyond the Science and Technology Committee’s report and Parliament’s response, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

Kashif Farooq


Responses

  1. I have watched a close relative suffer for many years with multiple health problems [Asthma- High Blood Pressure- Acute Sinus problems etc. This relative has relied mainly on homeopathic remedies, and only because they are prescribed at a NHS clinic by an NHS registered doctor, with prescriptions being issued by the NHS. Needles to say all this treatment over the years has ben totally useless. But the illusion remains, it recognised by the NHS so it must be alrlight. It is not alright, is is downright dangerous. Current prescipions {at a heavy cost to he NHS= include Hekla Lava i.e the dust from a volvano and the weirdest of all The Berlin wall. How can this be allowed to go on? Our homeopathic `doctor` also advises against the use of Antibiotics Hekla Lava if more effective – I rest my case


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