"A reduction of treatment is desirable"

by endlesspsych

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On the 22nd of February this year, the House of Commons Science and Technology committee published “Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy” with its conclusion that the NHS should cease funding homeopathy. It also concluded that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow homeopathic product labels to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy. Furthermore it stated that as they are not medicines, homeopathic products should no longer be licensed by the MHRA.

Those who had been involved in the highly successful 10:23 campaign and the mass homeopathic overdose were understandably pleased – although it remains to be seen what impact the report will actually have. North of the Border Edinburgh and Glasgow Skeptics took part in the mass overdose and were very active in the campaign. However, north of the border, health is a devolved matter and the Sewell Convention states that “Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”. Thus if Westminster enacts the recommendations of the science and technology committee, Scotland may not be bound to follow.

How much does the Scottish NHS spend on homeopathy?

The NHS in Scotland comprises 14 health boards and we contacted each of them under the Freedom of Information Act to find out how much money they spent on funding homeopathy. The information- 13 provided- is given below (Greater Glasgow and Clyde has a separate section below):

NHS Ayrshire and Arran

NHS Ayrshire And Arran provided the following response:

We are unable to provide this information as it is not centrally recorded. CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is used in a number of disciplines, however, it is part of the patient’s overall treatment. For example, acupuncture for pain is a recognised treatment in Physiotherapy.  It is the Physiotherapist’s professional opinion as to whether this is part of a full treatment programme. No patients are referred specifically for this treatment.

NHS Borders

NHS Borders has referred patients for CAM outwith Borders or to an independent practitioner for treatments with the following spend per annum:
NHS Borders
Year Spending
03/04 £2,071
04/05 £6,349
05/06 £2,738
06/07 £7,766
07/08 £1,192
08/09 £2,418

NHS Dumfries and Galloway

NHS Dumfries and Galloway spent the following on homeopathy:

NHS Dumfries and Galloway
Year Spending

2005/06

£1770.22
2006/07

£1434.98

2007/08 £1307.26
2008/09

£1551.99

2009/10 (Apr-Nov)

£1229.59

NHS Fife

NHS Fife gave the following response:

Routinely, NHS Fife does not refer patients to Complementary and Alternative Medicine and does not provide any clinic within NHS Fife.

Infrequently a patient may have been referred to an external provider but due to the small number of occasions, this information cannot be provided, as it could be patient identifiable.

NHS Forth Valley

NHS Forth Valley does not routinely provide complementary and alternative medicine or fund these treatments.

NHS Grampian

Figures for NHS Grampians’ spend on homeopathy are given below:

NHS Grampian
Year Spending
2004/05

£52,000

2005/06

£48,000

2006/07

£49,000

2007/08

£43,000

2008/09

£41,000

NHS Highland

Figures for NHS Highlands spend on homeopathy and number of patients attending is given below:

NHS Highland
Year Budget Amount Spent Number of Attendances
2004 / 05 26,000 17,808 507
2005 / 06 28,000 15,553 415
2006 / 07 28,800 18,243 422
2007 / 08 29,400 15,633 273
2008 / 09 30,300 13,728 311

NHS Lanarkshire

NHS Lanarkshire provided the following response:

Complementary service set up costs (excluding salaries costs) were initially funded using ward endowment funds / Macmillan cancer support. This included room furnishings, equipment, supplies and training costs. Thereafter, NHSL have supported the ongoing needs of the service. There are two Complementary Therapists employed by NHS Lanarkshire

Individuals are offered 6 sessions thereafter, a further assessment may be carried out and if necessary the treatment period would be extended.

The following therapies are available.

* Aromatherapy
* Aromatherapy Massage
* Indian Head Massage
* Reflexology
* Reiki
* Clinical Hypnosis
* Cranio Sacral Therapy
* Bach Flower Remedies

NHS Lothian

NHS Lothian provided the following information on the cost of homeopathic services:

NHS Lothian cost of homeopathic services
Cost
Area 03/04 04/05 05/06 06/07 07/08
Service level agreement with NHS Greater Glasgow 24909 25879 26193 26700 27322
St Johns Service 22390 23262 23544 24000 24560
Dalkeith Clinic inc Leith CTC 57980 53629 43867 61517 48680
Total 102987 92063 78751 112217 84803

The following figures for patients attending homeopathic services were provided:

NHS Lothian homeopathic patients
Year New patients Return Patients Total
2003/04 214 997 1211
2004/05 205 1257 1462
2005/06 295 1457 1752
2006/07 273 1806 2079
2007/08 144 1099 1243
Total 1131 6616 7747

NHS Orkney

NHS Orkney does not provide complementary and alternative medicine care. There are no NHS funded complementary and alternative medicine clinics in Orkney. NHS Orkney does not have a budget for or planned expenditure on homeopathic treatment.

A very small number of Orkney patients (<< 10) have had appointments in Glasgow, at an annual cost of less than £1000.

In 2005 NHS Orkney funded a £30 talk on homeopathy, and spent £449 on an acupuncture course and expenses for members of staff. In 2008 £402 was spent on an acupuncture course and expenses for members of staff.

NHS Shetland

NHS Shetland gave the following information on use of homeopathy:

NHS Shetland
Year

Number of Patients

Cost

06/07

6

£2,484
07/08

2

£268

08/09

4

£1052

09/10

3

£768 (Figures to date)

Total of 7 individual patients.

These are patients with follow up appointments as we have not referred any new patients since 2008.

NHS Tayside

The use of homeopathic services and their cost in NHS Tayside are as follows:

NHS Tayside Homeopathy Services
Year

New Patients

Return Patients

Clinic Cost

Prescribing Cost

Total Cost

2004/05

253

1283

Not held

Not held

Not held

2005/06

214

1292

54,775

700

55,475

2006/07

195

1400

55,100

9,700

64,800

2007/08

203

1379

55,000

14,800

69,800

2008/09

176

1148

58,000

12,800

70,800

2009/10

(interpolated)

58,400

15,700

74,100

NHS Western Isles

NHS Western Isles has not spent anything on providing CAM since 97/98 and does not hold figures electronically for before then.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Gartnavel Homeopathic Hospital

Glasgow Homeopathic hospital cost £2,780,189 to build funded by the New Homoeopathic Hospital Endowment Fund. Homoeopathy Endowments can be traced back to a public fund raising effort in the 1930’s to provide a new homoeopathic hospital. The New Homoeopathic Hospital Fund was established in 1974. The New Homoeopathic Hospital as it exists today was built in 1999.  There are 15 staff at the hospital: all, apart from having their basic Medical Degree, have completed post-graduate training in homoeopathy and have attained Membership of the Faculty of Homoeopathy (MFHom).

In 1974, an agreement was reached regarding the homeopathic hospital- the provision was made that the building could only be used for something else (other than homeopathy) if the demand for homoeopathic treatments had diminished to such an extent that the provision of homoeopathic facilities could no longer be justified.

The number of patients treated by the Homeopathic Hospital at Gartnavel is given below:

Number of Patients attending Gartnavel Homeopathic Hospital.
Year

Total Inpatients

Total Outpatients

2005/2006

476

9788

2006/2007

443

9998

2007/2008

419

8846

2008/2009

448

8629
2009/2010

339 year to date

6272 year to date

In 2004/2005 the inpatient service at the Homeopathic Hospital was reviewed, the conclusion from this review was to continue offering these services and this remains the position today. How much the homeopathic hospital and associated services cost is given below:

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Year

Expenditure

2005/2006

£1.383m

2006/2007

£1.293m

2007/2008

£1.430m

2008/2009

£1.468m

2009/2010

£1.272m as at end Jan’10

…and finally:

NHS Highland also provided me with the following list of what homeopathy referrals should be considered for:

Children With:
Ø      Recurrent infections or ill health
Ø      Skin problems
Ø      Behavioural problems / learning disabilities
Ø      Generally below par in general health

Adults With:
Ø      Asthma
Ø      Headaches and migraines
Ø      Post viral syndrome
Ø      Irritable bowel / abdominal pain
Ø      Allergies
Ø      Pre menstrual / menopausal symptoms
Ø     Post natal depression

In Circumstances Where:
Ø      There is no effective orthodox treatment
Ø      Side effects of current treatment are unacceptable
Ø      A reduction of treatment is desirable

If homeopathic treatment is being provided for all these reasons then I suggest that a reduction of treatment is desirable. A reduction to none, so the people of Scotland can get the safe and evidence based healthcare they deserve.

Stop NHS Scotland funding quackery and Pseudoscience: Join the Facebook group and Sign the petition!

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