People should have the right to access Homeopathy
Yesterday, an acquaintance asked me if I had heard that people in the U.K. are wanting to ABOLISH and BAN Homeopathy. I assured him that Homeopathy has a long history and could never be 'abolished'. Last night, I saw the movie Spotlight and it has inspired me to keep putting this type of information across for those who are looking.
Homeopathy will always exist. Here is a succinct list of facts from the Homeopathic Research Institute (please consider funding their essential work):
Some people take the position that public money should not be spent on homeopathy because “there is no proof that it works” or “tax-payers money shouldn’t be spent on placebos”.
How much is spent on homeopathy?
Looking at the situation in the UK, this is what the National Health Service spends on homeopathy:
- From the total NHS drug budget of £11 billion a year, it spends £152,000 (0.0013%) on homeopathic prescriptions.1
- Out of the total NHS budget of £100 billion a year, it spends £4 million (0.004%) on Homeopathy2
£4 million covers everything from running the hospitals departments to paying the doctors. This provides treatment for approx. 40,000 patients a year.
What ‘proof’ is there that other NHS treatments work?
Some people argue that the NHS should not pay for homeopathy because it should only offer treatments that have been ‘tried and tested’ scientifically and been shown to work.
This sounds logical, but according to the prestigious British Medical Journal only 13% of 2,500 commonly used NHS treatments are known to be beneficial:3
What evidence is there that homeopathy helps NHS patients?
Six studies carried out from 1999 to the present day have tracked the outcome of patients being treated at NHS homeopathic hospitals. These observational studies show patient benefit in terms of clinical outcomes (often for chronic difficult to treat conditions), as well as areas of potential economic benefit in terms of reduced prescribing of conventional drugs.
The largest one, an observational study at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital, followed over 6,500 consecutive patients with over 23,000 attendances in a six-year period4. 70% of follow-up patients reported improved health; 50% reported major improvement. The most common diagnostic groups were Dermatology, Neurology, Rheumatology, Gastroenterology, Psychiatry and Ear, Nose & Throat. The best treatment responses were reported in childhood eczema or asthma, and in inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal problems and migraine.
A 500-patient survey at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital showed that many patients were able to reduce or stop conventional medication following homeopathic treatment.5 The size of the effect varied between diagnoses e.g. for skin complaints, 72% of patients reported being able to stop or reduce their conventional medication. The study also showed that many patients seek homeopathy because of their concerns about the safety of conventional treatment.
When assessing value for money, it’s important to bear in mind that patients referred for homeopathy have difficult to treat chronic conditions i.e. they have either tried conventional medicine and it has been unsatisfactory, or conventional treatment is contra-indicated in their case. One has to ask, if these homeopathy services were not available, who could treat these 40,000 people instead? And what would that cost the NHS?
- Science and Technology Committee ‘Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy’ HC 45
- Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Health by the Faculty of Homeopathy. Cost was £11.89 million between 2005 and 2008.
- Garrow JS BMJ 2007 335:951 [Pubmed]
- Spence D, Thompson E A, Barron S J. Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease: a 6-year university-hospital outpatient observational study. J Altern Complement Med 2005; 5: 793-798 [Pubmed]