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'.

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

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Some encouraging regulatory news on CEASE therapy for autism - #homeopathy

Summary: the PSA has already taken on board skeptics' concerns about some of the Society of Homeopaths' members who use homeopathy and CEASE therapy in treating (and claiming to treat) autistic children. In January 2019 the PSA added an additional point to consider, which is that the treatment "seeks to ‘eliminate’ a characteristic that not everyone would think necessary or desirable to eliminate" and is a safeguarding concern.
CEASE therapy is a bogus treatment for autism. It stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression and consultations are regularly offered by homeopaths via Skype, widening the pool of possible patients to anyone around the world. CEASE relies on the incorrect idea that it's possible to detox from vaccinations by using high dose vitamins, other supplements and homeopathic remedies.

The Society of Homeopaths is aware that some of their members offer CEASE and that the marketing of the intervention is often deemed problematic. There have been adjudications by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) against homeopaths who've made misleading claims about the treatment and it's generally considered that writing CEASE out in full itself makes a marketing claim.

For the last couple of years the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) have had their register of members accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). Skeptic bloggers (including me) have been regularly in touch with the PSA to express concerns about the problems that promoting CEASE therapy entails. The PSA has taken some promising action.

In February 2018 the PSA re-accredited the SoH but with provisos attached that they monitor CEASE-offering members' advertising material, put a position statement on their website about the treatment and what can't be claimed for it and review the risks of the treatment.
• More detail on this can be found here Better monitoring of homeopaths advertising CEASE therapy for autism in the UK - hooray (28 Feb 2018)

A fellow skeptic has just alerted me to the recently published outcome from a Board Meeting the PSA had on 16 January 2019. It covers all of their accreditation processes but specific mention is made of the PSA's own concerns about CEASE therapy / homeopathy, raising a new issue that I confess hadn't occurred to me (Equality Act, see first para in the quote below).
• More at Update on Accredited Registers (19 Jan 2019), a 6-pg PDF.

Point 6.12 on page 5 of 6 says (emphasis added by me)
"...In the light of our experience with considering the issues involved in CEASE therapy we would highlight one additional point. Whilst we addressed this primarily from a safety perspective, it also raised an ethical issue under the Equality Act in so far as the therapy seeks to ‘eliminate’ a characteristic that not everyone would think necessary or desirable to eliminate. Since we already consider observance with the Equality Act within our assessment process we do not think we need to amend the principles.

We consider the safeguarding legislative gap to present an ongoing risk to the public and we will continue to raise this matter with the DHSC and Ministers. This year we will focus our assessment activity on accredited registers risk management procedures, which will include reviewing their safeguarding arrangements and if this continues to highlight a problem, we will present our findings to DHSC to strengthen our call for action."
Update on Accredited Registers (19 Jan 2019)DHSC = Department for Health and Social Care
Encouragingly the Society of Homeopaths has already appointed their first safeguarding officer (Sep 2018) which is a positive move, but there are still a number of their members whose websites make claims about autism that shouldn't be made. More on that in the next couple of months or so.

As for the SoH's current accreditation? Along with a couple of other members' registers their status is "Annual review under assessment"...

Further reading
Pic credit: Schüssler tablets homeopathy

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