Homeopaths should stay on the NHS
Homeopathy is an evidence based medicine and should be available on the NHS, say the Society of Homeopaths.
They point out that the Government’s Science & Technology Committee report, which concluded there was no evidence to support the use of homeopathy, has been heavily criticised, not only among the homeopathic community, but also by MPs.
An Early Day Motion was lodged by David Tredinick, and an objective critique of the report has been circulated in both Houses by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, condemning it as “unreliable”.
Earl Baldwin wrote the report to raise concerns about the Committee’s interpretation of the written evidence presented, and their apparent bias when selecting witnesses to give oral evidence. He concludes that: “these limitations make the Committee’s report an unreliable source of evidence about homeopathy.”
He has circulated this critique throughout the House of Commons and the House of Lords with the aim of retaining homeopathy on the NHS.
Zofia Dymitr, Society of Homeopaths Chairwoman said: “Homeopathy is an evidence-based medicine and there is plenty of research supporting its efficacy beyond placebo. There is also evidence that homeopathy is cost effective.
“In summarising that there is no evidence for homeopathy, the committee inexplicably overlooked the fact that, of the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that have been carried out comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment, 74 published in peer-reviewed journals were able to draw firm conclusions – 63 were positive for homeopathy and eleven were negative.
“This is despite the fact that homeopathy – being a complex intervention involving individualised prescriptions for each patient – does not lend itself to investigation by classical RCTs.”
There is also other research – a service evaluation at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital recorded the outcome of homeopathic treatment in over 6,500 consecutive patients. In this study, carried out over a six-year period, 70 per cent of patients reported an improvement in their health.
And in 2005, a report commissioned by Prince Charles and carried out by economist Christopher Smallwood found that following a pilot study where patients were treated with complementary and alternative medicines, there was a 30 per cent drop in the number of consultations with GPs and a saving in prescription drugs bills of 50 per cent.
Zofia added: “While it is true that science cannot yet explain the precise mechanism of action of ultrahigh dilutions such as homeopathic medicines, this does not mean that there is no mechanism of action.”
It is also worth noting that at a 2008 meta-analysis involving 35 clinical trials and 5,000 patients suffering from depression found that commonly prescribed antidepressants have little more effect than ‘dummy’ placebo pills. And yet, prescriptions for anti-depressants are at record levels, with 31 million written in 2006 at a cost to the NHS of almost £300million.