No more NHS funding for homeopathic medicine say MPs

The National Health Service should stop funding homeopathy, a Commons committee said today.





MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee said there was no evidence that the complementary medicine worked. To continue to do so risked harming patients who chose ineffective homeopathic remedies in place of effective orthodox medicines, diverted NHS funds from more effective treatments and undermined the principle that government funding in health should be evidence based.

Homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like” and uses highly diluted substances to trigger the body to heal itself. Millions of pounds worth of homeopathic remedies are sold by high street chemists and are also available through the NHS, but the committee concluded they were no more effective than placebo.

Even before the report was released today, the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health responded by claiming “militant scientists” who gave evidence to the committee had “left the patient out of their calculations”.

Dr Michael Dixon, medical director, admitted that homeopathy was “scientifically implausible” but said compassion and caring were being forgotten.

“The task of the NHS is to improve the health of the public and to treat those who are sick or disabled. We should not abandon patients we cannot help with conventional scientific medicine. If homeopathy is getting results for those patients, then of course we should continue to use it.”

The foundation called for controlled studies to compare the effectiveness and cost of homeopathy with other solutions for long-term conditions. But the Commons committee rejected the proposal on the grounds that scores of clinical trials had been conducted and failed to show a real effect (over and above placebo). Further trials could not be justified, the committee said.

Phil Willis, chair of the committee, said: “We fully understand someone taking a homeopathic remedy may feel better. But the weight of evidence showed it worked no better than placebo. If homeopathy works [better than placebo], the whole of chemistry and physics would have to be overturned. There has been enough testing.”

There are four homeopathic hospitals in the UK in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow and some GP practices also offer access to homeopathic treatment on the NHS. A fifth homeopathic hospital in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, closed last year after the West Kent primary care trust withdrew funding following a review which concluded it was not cost effective.

An estimated £4m a year is spent by the NHS on homeopathy, not including the running of the hospitals.

The report also criticised the licensing of products, such as Arnica Montana 30C, by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which “actively misled” people into thinking it contained an active ingredient.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk