NHS Homeopathy

NHS Homeopathy

I promise that:
“.. under the National Health Service Act homeopathic institutions will be enabled to provide their own form of treatment and that the continuity of the characteristics of those institutions will be maintained…”
Aneurin Bevan, founder of the National Health Service

Source: Robin Dowie, Postgraduate medical education and training: the system in           England and Wales (King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London, 28 May 1987).

Homeopathy is available on the NHS, and has been since it’s inception, but it is currently a postcode lottery wether or not you will be able to receive it.  Camden and Islington Primary Care Trusts are still funding treatments at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (now renamed the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine) but you will have to be referred by your General Practitioner or a consultant.  Nationwide, as of February 2011, only about a Third of NHS trusts fund homeopathy (BBC News 18 February 2011).

Through the NHS’s online ‘Choose and Book’ system your GP or Consultant should be able to book an appointment for you with a homeopath for a wide range of conditions.  Alternatively, you could use the NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners (see below) to apply to see a registered homeopath in their own practice, and have your treament funded by your local Primary Care Trust (PCT).  In principle, this is still possible and absolutetly worth fighting for, but in practice, depending on where you live, it may be difficult to get your PCT to agree to fund homeopathy.  For example, see Marjorie’s story v’s Bournemouth PCT here.  On the other hand, patient pressure has been successful in Glasgow: the proposal to close in-patient beds at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, the only homeopathic hospital in the UK to offer such an amenity, were abandoned in the face of opposition by patients who had benefited from the provision of this service, and in Brent, London, some patients have continued to get treatment from the RLHIM despite the PCT cutting it’s contract.

In the future however, as PCTs are phased out, commissioning decisions may increasingly be made by GP clusters (see here for more about this).  In fact, Dr. Michael Dixon has said that it’s already time for GP’s to start commisioning, regardless of the changes happening within the NHS.  So now is the time to educate your GP about homeopathy and other complementary therapies, not least because studies have shown that: “Patients whose GP has additional CAM training have 0-30% lower healthcare costs and mortality rates, depending on age groups and type of CAM.  The lower costs result from fewer hospital stays and fewer prescription drugs“.

Also homeopathy and complementary therapies are the most sustainable forms of medicine there are.  In this article published in the Ecologist, 27th April, 2011, Delny Britton investigates the hidden impacts of western mainstream medicine – including pollution from pharmaceutical products, high carbon emissions and adverse drug reactions – and asks whether the healthcare sector can ever be truly sustainable?  So go on, why not encourage your GP to train as a homeopath (see here for more ‘Reasons to train in homeopathy’).

If you need help with any of this, please see the below information, or contact me.

British Homeopathic Association: Getting an NHS referral for homeopathy
The NHS spends approximately £4 million a year on homeopathy.

The four NHS homeopathic hospitals have been a part of the NHS since it began in 1948. They currently treat 55,000 patients per year who are referred by GPs, PCTs and NHS specialists… more

How to get homeopathy on the NHS (pdf) By Steve Scrutton
This information is generally applicable no matter where you live, but you will have to find the details of your local Primary Care Trust and related organisations.

The NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners
Though the availability of complementary therapy via the NHS is now beginning to make headlines in the newspapers, it does not necessarily mean that all doctors are willing to prescribe complementary medicine, at the end of the day the decision to prescribe is still a matter for clinical judgement of your GP, and even if they are willing, not all Primary Care Trusts presently have funding provisions dedicated to complementary medicine. In some cases, this is simply a question of lack of resources and, in other cases, it is a question of an unwillingness on the part of the Primary Care Trust to provide complementary therapy… more

“The NHS is right to fund homoeopathy
S Clare Stanford
, reader in experimental psychopharmacology, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology, and Pharmacology, University College London c.stanford@ucl.ac.uk

If they [homeopathic remedies] were banned from the NHS, an obvious alternative would be to prescribe conventional drugs. These will be more expensive and have real side effects, some of them potentially harmful.

This is not desirable when clinicians are already accused of playing fast and loose with prescription drugs and of medicalising problems that do not need treating.

Another complaint is that homeopathy is used when patients need conventional drugs. Such medical neglect will not be resolved by homeopathy’s expulsion from the NHS. The current position optimises opportunities for responsible practitioners to refer patients for more appropriate treatment, if necessary. A good example of that practice is the (former) Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, which was cowed into changing its name after relentless battering from campaigners. A seamless switch to conventional medicine will be impossible if homeopathic treatments are available only on the high street.”  Full text here

See also: ‘Proposals for closer incorporation of homoeopathy into Western medical systems‘ in Integrating homoeopathy in health systems by B. Poitevin, Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 1999, 77 (2)

Please Sign the Petition For complementary therapies to be offered on the NHS

“We the people of the United Kingdom would like to campaign for a free NHS service on complementary therapies including Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Homeopathy, Herbalism and Reflexology. The physical and psychological benefits of those therapies will greatly reduce overcrowded GP’s and Hospital admissions and will contribute to a healthier happier society”
Given that there have been so many attacks on NHS homeopathy in the press recently, I wrote the following article together with a colleague to persuade homeopaths, and others, of why it is so vital that we campaign to defend it: