The Queen's personal physician and Britain's leading homoeopath yesterday warned of a "co-ordinated campaign to derail complementary therapies in the NHS".
A leaked memo seen by The Independent on Sunday identifies several influential groups working together for the removal of homoeopathy from the NHS.
According to Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in referrals to the hospital in the past year, as new patients are refused funding by a growing number of primary care trusts.
The hospital – an NHS centre of excellence – could be forced drastically to cut services if other PCTs introduce the same system and if funding for patients currently undergoing treatment is withdrawn.
Dr Fisher, whose patients include the supermodel Claudia Schiffer, pointed to the fact that some six million people in the UK use complementary therapies each year. Advocates include David Beckham and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Dr Fisher said: "There are some patients with conditions that prescription drugs alone do not help. There is a huge potential to help these patients and those who experience adverse side-effects from conventional medicines with complementary therapies."
The four NHS homoeopathic hospitals combine therapies to treat chronic conditions, such as depression, irritable bowel syndrome and osteoarthritis that conventional medicines alone can fail. But this relatively new integrated approach offends the beliefs and aims of certain groups.
"The campaign dates back two years starting with several eminent and mostly retired scientists and doctors who have a way of seeing the world and medicine which complementary therapies do not sit within," Dr Fisher said. "The pharmaceutical industry is worried for its future, as public opinion is shifting towards complementary therapies."
The memo, sent out by the president of the Association of the Directors of Public Health, Dr Tim Crayford, referred only to homoeopathy, but all complementary therapies are affected. Dr Crayford said: "The email... was certainly not about all complementary therapies. This paper was written to help PCTs focus on the delivery of essential services."Reuse content