“A reduction of treatment is desirable
Orignallly from the twenty-first floor
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 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 Dumfries and Galloway spent the following on homeopathy:
|NHS Dumfries and Galloway|
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 does not routinely provide complementary and alternative medicine or fund these treatments.
Figures for NHS Grampians’ spend on homeopathy are given below:
Figures for NHS Highlands spend on homeopathy and number of patients attending is given below:
|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 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 Massage
* Indian Head Massage
* Clinical Hypnosis
* Cranio Sacral Therapy
* Bach Flower Remedies
NHS Lothian provided the following information on the cost of homeopathic services:
|NHS Lothian cost of homeopathic services|
|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|
The following figures for patients attending homeopathic services were provided:
|NHS Lothian homeopathic patients|
|Year||New patients||Return Patients||Total|
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 gave the following information on use of homeopathy:
|Year||Number of Patients||Cost|
|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.
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|
NHS Western Isles has not spent anything on providing CAM since 97/98 and does not hold figures electronically for before then.
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|
|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|
|2009/2010||£1.272m as at end Jan’10|
NHS Highland also provided me with the following list of what homeopathy referrals should be considered for:
Ø Recurrent infections or ill health
Ø Skin problems
Ø Behavioural problems / learning disabilities
Ø Generally below par in general health
Ø Headaches and migraines
Ø Post viral syndrome
Ø Irritable bowel / abdominal pain
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.