Fresh calls to scrap homeopathy referrals in Scotland after NHS England calls it ‘a misuse of funds’

Written by Tom Freeman and Nicholas Keyden on 2 August 2017 in News

Humanist Society of Scotland calls on Scottish Government to follow NHS England in pulling funding from homeopathic referrals

Homeopathy - credit WSA Community Pharmacy

The Scottish Government is facing fresh calls to end NHS referrals for homeopathy after NHS England announced it would stop funding the alternative health practice.

Homeopathy, an alternative therapy using distilled water, is carried out in Scotland at Glasgow’s Centre for Integrative Care but only used by a small number of health boards.

The hospital has already has its beds used for alternative medicine cut from April, but the Humanist Society of Scotland has now written to The Scottish Government calling for an end the remaining £1.7m spent on homeopathy.


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The letter, addressed to Scottish Secretary for Health Shona Robson, claims the alternative treatments are neither clinically-effective nor cost-effective. The Scottish Government said it will remain a choice for individual health boards.

NHS England said last week it would halt prescriptions of homeopathy. Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said it is “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.

Gordon Macrae, Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, said: “Homeopathy has continually been shown, time after time, to be no more effective than a simple placebo.

“It is absolutely vital that NHS spending is directed towards meaningful and effective treatments that have a real prospect of treating illnesses and other medical complaints.

“The fact that the NHS in Scotland is spending over £1.5m a year on unproven remedies will stick in the throats of patients and campaigners who can see better uses for this resource in the NHS.”

Glasgow’s Centre for Integrative Care, formerly called the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, is the only centre for Homeopathic care remaining in Scotland.

In 2016 NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde voted to remove 7 in-patient beds at the Gartnavel site after three health boards decided to end referrals to the centre, but campaigners argue the service offers holistic treatment not found elsewhere.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government recognises that some Complementary and Alternative Medicines, including Homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions.  

"It is for individual NHS Boards to decide which therapies they make available based on national and local priorities and the needs of their resident populations, in line with national guidance.”

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