Stuff that occurs to me

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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

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Thursday, 3 February 2011

List of NHS bodies that have stopped funding homeopathy

Shortened link for this post is
Background: Briefly, the Government's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call saying "what do you think should be investigated?", a whole bunch of people answered "homeopathy" (and lots of other stuff) and after deliberations they came to the unavoidable conclusion that it offers no benefit beyond placebo and recommended its NHS funding should cease.

Their report, which is available here, (.html .pdf) states:

110. The Government's position on homeopathy is confused. On the one hand, it accepts that homeopathy is a placebo treatment. This is an evidence-based view. On the other hand, it funds homeopathy on the NHS without taking a view on the ethics of providing placebo treatments. We argue that this undermines the relationship between NHS doctors and their patients, reduces real patient choice and puts patients' health at risk. The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.
111. We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths.
However, this recommendation was ignored by the Department of Health (something about 'patient choice' probably) and this was taken by homeopaths across the land as a reprieve of sorts.

Not killing homeopathy could well be a vote winner, but gradually Primary Care Trusts (who currently commission local services) seem to have realised that a homeopathectomy can help balance the books. Although homeopathy doesn't cost a great deal of money it isn't cost effective because it's not the best way to spend that money.

The British Medical Association also voted in favour of giving homeopathy a swerve: Doctors call for NHS to stop funding homeopathy.

I've not found a list of 'all PCTs that have ended the foolishness of paying for tea-sweeteners and a nice chat' and I have Googled for it, but here's my attempt to collect one together. Who have I missed? How do we hear about consultations? Is it something that local people can spot if they're looking at what their PCT is publishing on its website or is the best place to look?

EDIT: 3 Feb 2011
As always, delightfully, people on Twitter have got in touch to point me to more resources, hooray.

Episode #029 of "Skeptics with a K" highlights which PCTs were funding homeopathy (at time of broadcast, 26 August 2010) and there's a Google Docs document which lists Homeopathy in England by PCT).
EDIT: 14 Aug 2011
After a couple of tweets on this issue this morning @DavidWaldock got in touch to tell me that data is available for Scotland too - see Patients per annum and NHS Spend Details, or the full set, including the Hom in England by PCT doc above, is available here. This data comes from work undertaken (Freedom of Information requests) published on the 21st floor blog.

NHS Highland
"The board of NHS Highland has agreed to end future support for homeopathic treatment for its patients."
Source: NHS Highland board ends support for homeopathy

It also seems that NHS Lothian is giving it some thought as well, although I don't think they've got going yet with their consultation.
Scottish Parliament Written answers, 15 November 2010 Scottish Parliament Written answers, 31 January 2011
Merseyside Skeptic Society reported on 2 April 2011 that, following a meeting of the Professional Executive Committee in March, the NHS in Wirral will no longer fund homeopathy.
According to @kashfarooq and @MrMMarsh "Nottingham City PCT and Nottinghamshire County PCT do not commission homeopathy."
Source: Nottinghamshire NHS and homeopathy
The Greater Manchester Medicines Management Group covers the following 10 PCTs and has told them that homeopathy should not be recommended.
  1. Ashton Leigh & Wigan
  2. Bolton
  3. Salford
  4. Bury
  5. Trafford
  6. Manchester
  7. Stockport
  8. Oldham
  9. Tameside & Glossop
  10. Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale
Sources: GMMMG Homeopathy policy
Greater Manchester Medicines Management Group withdraws NHS funding for homeopathy

NHS West Kent PCT
The review that West Kent undertook a year or so before the Government's own review was mentioned in the Evidence Check document and recommendations were made that it should be shared, by the Department of Health, with other PCTs as a model for their own investigations. West Kent was in the slightly unusual position of also having a homeopathy hospital which was then shut down; most PCTs don't have that.
Source: West Kent PCT commissioning review and decision: PCT Board Meeting 24/07/08

Out of all the possible Primary Care Trusts or Strategic Health Authorities that could ditch homeopathy it's a fairly feeble number that actually have, though I hope and expect that this will change.

This blog doesn't attract that many comments but in the unlikely event that the homeopaths swarm over to bleat about this post (seriously, nothing new here - this is merely a collection of information already available elsewhere in one handy page) I'm not going to publish any pro-homeopathy arguments from them as it's really gone beyond tedium. However if they or anyone else spot an error or omission in this post I'll be happy to correct it.

EDIT 3 Feb 2011
Despite the above (fairly clear) instruction I'm afraid the Malik plague tried to leave a comment but I've deleted it. (Just had to edit this sentence as, inexplicably, I wrote that I'd 'delighted' the comment...).

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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).