Labour tells new health spokeswoman to drop her support for homeopathy


Sidonie Chaffer-Melly
Saturday 12 October 2013 23:47 BST
Luciana Berger (far right) was appointed Labour’s health spokeswoman last week
Luciana Berger (far right) was appointed Labour’s health spokeswoman last week (PA Wire)

Labour has forced its new public health spokeswoman, Luciana Berger, to renounce her views on homeopathy.

Ms Berger replaced Diane Abbott as shadow Health minister in Ed Miliband's reshuffle last week. She has previously signed parliamentary motions submitted for debate that supported the funding of homeopathic remedies on the NHS after the British Medical Association had opposed it. A Labour Party spokesman yesterday said: "Luciana fully supports the scientific evidence on the use of homeopathy. These old petitions will have no impact on her work as a shadow Health minister."

Homeopathy is a method of alternative medicine using diluted substances which are claimed to cause the body to heal itself. It is widely viewed by the scientific community as being based on no evidence, the remedies being no more effective than placebos.

Private practitioners offer homeopathic remedies to treat a range of illnesses, including asthma and high blood pressure. Some also suggest that it can prevent diseases such as malaria. A 2010 House of Commons science and technology committee report on the treatment stated that the concept of homeopathy was "scientifically implausible".

Homeopathy is sometimes available on the NHS; there are NHS homeopathic hospitals, and some GP practices offer it.

Some have questioned Ms Berger's stance on homeopathy in relation to her new role as Labour's health spokeswoman. One of the motions she signed welcomed a study from Texas that showed homeopathy had a beneficial effect in treating breast cancer, while another suggested that there was "overwhelming anecdotal evidence that homeopathy is effective."

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