Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 19 February 2011

I presume the Government is poking fun obliquely at homeopathy

I was a bit surprised to receive a message from the Government today in response to a petition about homeopathy that I signed back in June 2010. To be honest I'd more or less forgotten about it as it's eight months ago. That seems rather a long time to take to send an answer, I wonder what their Customer Service standards are.

The response summary is five brief paragraphs with a link to the full response. The main summary points are:
"The Department of Health will not be withdrawing funding for homeopathy on the NHS, nor will the licensing of homeopathic products be stopped. Decisions on the provision and funding of any treatment will remain the responsibility of the NHS locally."
- this passes the buck.
"A patient who wants homeopathic treatment on the NHS should speak to his or her GP. If the GP is satisfied this would be the most appropriate and effective treatment then, subject to any local commissioning policies, he or she can refer them to a practitioner or one of the NHS homeopathic hospitals."
- I'm not sure how a GP can consider any kind of homeopathic treatment to be the most appropriate treatment under any circumstance. It certainly isn't effective.
"In deciding whether homeopathy is appropriate for a patient, the treating clinician would be expected to take into account safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness as well as the availability of suitably qualified and regulated practitioners. The Department of Health would not intervene in such decisions."
- safety's always an interesting one. Because homeopathic treatments contain no medicine there's virtually no danger of interactions with any other (real or pretend) medicine but safety isn't determined only by the presence of an active ingredient of course. Clinical and cost-effectiveness would seem to be quite meaningless terms to apply to homeopathy; I assume the Government is having a small joke here.

The joking continues with a link to the full report which, at time of writing, turns out to be a 1998 report on antimicrobial resistance... "Government response to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science & Technology report: Resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents"

From initially being a bit disappointed by this response I cheered up once I realised that what the Government had done was write a document that is vaguely supportive of homeopathy but then hidden it at the "bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'"

Good work Government!

Maybe they were trying to link to this, but that was published in July 2010... While I was looking for that I also found this from 2003 in which the Department of Health encourages doctors practising homeopathy to register with the Faculty of Homeopathy.


  1. You're right: their response is a load of slopey-shoulder nonsense, written by someone who hasn't a clue what homeopathy really is/isn't.

    And that 2003 document is bizarre.

  2. *cough* Effective meaning what in this context?

  3. My MP says the issue is "choice". Apparently we should give people the "choice" of having the public purse fund disproven nonsense. Unfortunately the same "choice" doesn't seem to be available to those of us who would like the public purse to properly fund our childrens' university education.

    Woo good, education bad. Way to go.


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).