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Science and Technology Committee

Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy


Report published

The Committee published 'Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy', HC 45, its Fourth Report of Session 2009-10, on Monday 22 February 2010. The report included the oral and written evidence. 

MPS URGE GOVERNMENT TO WITHDRAW NHS FUNDING AND MHRA LICENSING OF HOMEOPATHY

In a report published today, the Science and Technology Committee concludes that the NHS should cease funding homeopathy. It also concludes that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow homeopathic product labels to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy. As they are not medicines, homeopathic products should no longer be licensed by the MHRA.

The Committee carried out an evidence check to test if the Government’s policies on homeopathy were based on sound evidence. The Committee found a mismatch between the evidence and policy. While the Government acknowledges there is no evidence that homeopathy works beyond the placebo effect (where a patient gets better because of their belief in the treatment),  it does not intend to change or review its policies on NHS funding of homeopathy.

The Committee concurred with the Government that the evidence base shows that homeopathy is not efficacious (that is, it does not work beyond the placebo effect) and that explanations for why homeopathy would work are scientifically implausible.

The Committee concluded-given that the existing scientific literature showed no good evidence of efficacy-that further clinical trials of homeopathy could not be justified.

In the Committee’s view, homeopathy is a placebo treatment and the Government should have a policy on prescribing placebos. The Government is reluctant to address the appropriateness and ethics of prescribing placebos to patients, which usually relies on some degree of patient deception. Prescribing of placebos is not consistent with informed patient choice-which the Government claims is very important-as it means patients do not have all the information needed to make choice meaningful.

Beyond ethical issues and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship, prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine. Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS.

The report also examines the MHRA licensing regime for homeopathic products.  The Committee is particularly concerned over the introduction of the National Rules Scheme (NRS) in 2006, as it allows medical indications on the basis of study reports, literature and homeopathic provings and not on the basis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) - the normal requirement for medicines that make medical claims.

The MHRA’s user-testing of the label for Arnica Montana 30C-the only product currently licensed under the NRS-was poorly designed, with some parts of the test little more than a superficial comprehension test of the label and other parts actively misleading participants to believe that the product contains an active ingredient.

The product labelling for homeopathic products under all current licensing schemes fails to inform the public that homeopathic products are sugar pills containing no active ingredients. The licensing regimes and deficient labelling lend a spurious medical legitimacy to homeopathic products.

The Chairman of the Committee, Phil Willis MP, said:

"This was a challenging inquiry which provoked strong reactions. We were seeking to determine whether the Government’s policies on homeopathy are evidence based on current evidence. They are not.

"It sets an unfortunate precedent for the Department of Health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homeopathy works is 'evidence' enough to continue spending public money on it. This also sends out a confused message, and has potentially harmful consequences. We await the Government's response to our report with interest.”


Terms of Reference

In preparation for the establishment of the Science and Technology Committee on 1 October, the former IUSS Committee commissioned work to assess the Government's use of evidence in policy-making. The Committee wrote to the Government on a number of topics and asked two questions: (1) What is the policy? (2) On what evidence is the policy based? The Government has now replied and having considered the responses the Committee has selected Homeopathy for its second Evidence Check.

The Committee invited short submissions on the following issues:

- Government policy on licensing of homeopathic products 
- Government policy on the funding of homeopathy through the NHS
- the evidence base on homeopathic products and services.

 


Oral evidence

 

Previous sessions:

Monday 30 November 2009
Mr Mike O'Brien QC MP, Minister for Health Services, Department of Health;
Professor David Harper CBE, Director General, Health Improvement and Protection, and Chief Scientist, Department of Health; 
Professor Kent Woods, Chief Executive, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Wednesday 25 November 2009 
Professor Jayne Lawrence, Chief Scientific Adviser, Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain;
Robert Wilson, Chairman, British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers;
Paul Bennett, Professional Standards Director, Boots;
Tracey Brown, Managing Director, Sense About Science;
Dr Ben Goldacre, Journalist.
Dr Peter Fisher, Director of Research, Royal London Homeopathic Hospital;
Professor Edzard Ernst, Director, Complementary Medicine Group, Peninsula Medical School;
Dr James Thallon, Medical Director, NHS West Kent;
Dr Robert Mathie, Research Development Adviser, British Homeopathic Association.

 


Written evidence

 

Homeopathy written evidence 

 


Press notices

 

20/10/09 Inquiry announced  
11/02/10 Report to be published 
22/02/10 Report published 

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Replies to This Discussion

see my dear friends.these kind of attacks come often whn these MPS have something to gain.lots of money from MNC.here question is not tht.What did so called doctors or doctor community in engaln do to give any evidence.of treating any diseases.Did anyone in England r institituitionally qualified like We have DHMS,BHMS,MD ETC.in Indiaor has any one did homoeopathy after MBBS.do any one keep records there,Whats the state of royal college of homoeopathy in england?.As far as someone celebrity ,there is prince sara fergusan who is homoeopathic patient.There r lot of factors.Is there is any strong assosciation there inuk,TODAY ITS UK TOMARROW WHOLE EU.SO ACT QUICK
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech...

This is the link to all the evidence submitted to the inquiry, from Doctors, homeopathic hospitals, Prince of Wales foundation for integrated health etc etc. The profession was given less than 3 weeks to submit, and anyone reading the report could be forgiven for suspecting that much of the evidence had not been looked at. Only one homeopath was called to give evidence, Dr Peter Fisher, from The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and I believe, the queens physician. This was not a balanced, meaningful or fair inquiry.
my dear friends.We have to work unitedly.This is not just something in UK.it is tehre today tomarrow it can be here.and media here also published that report.We indian homoeopatrhs r always there to help u.ANYTHING FOR HOMOEOPATHY
Who can write up a short letter along with a petition that we can now begin to circulate for signatures?
Something along the lines of all the petitions that have been coming out of Greenpeace and other International and Global Initiatives that have been having a strong voice since the climate change summit in Copenhagen, December 2009.
That we stand united as one Planetary family with the rights to choose our own modality of healing either Homeopathy, Osteopathy , Acupuncture and so forth.
Attachments:
hi barbara, thank you for your suggestion of a petition. i have been involved with hmc21(Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21C) almost since it began 2 and a half years ago, and the campaign started with the idea of a declaration or petition called 'homeopathy worked for me'. our goal here in the uk was originally to get 250,000 signatures to the declaration within the first year. i have to say, it was VERY hard work getting nearly 30,000 signatures over the past 2 and a half years, and at times it was a full time job. there were only a handful of us working on it, and although we reached out to the wider community and had lots of verbal support (being told how wonderful it is) and a few financial donations to help keep us going, actual physical support was not forthcoming. we had a wonderful response from the international community and received many signatures, especially from india.

i don't know if you have seen the website, www.hmc21.org , please be welcome to have a look if you haven't already. it hasn't been updated yet since the lobby on weds, but has loads of information about how to argue the case for homeopathy from the scientific viewpoint. william alderson has worked tirelessly on catching out the sense about science people through analyzing their argument and finding it is an empty one with little or no substance. there are loads of free downloads on the site which are very useful in helping to campaign for homeopathy, and loads of links as well.

do you or anyone else on this forum have any ideas on ways to overcome the difficulties we faced in trying to get signatures? we found that those who were willing to sign immediately were very enthusiastic about it, but then it settled into a kind of malaise where we had to work very hard to get every signature. i lost my voice talking to people over several days at a trade fair, and we managed to achieve 2000 signatures then, but those did not expand into more signatures without constant input from us. we had hoped word of mouth would do it.

what was most difficult to face wasn't arguments from people who were against us (and there were a few of those...). i found it most disappointing when homeopaths or patients would say they didn't want to get involved, or they would say it doesn't affect them so they aren't interested in it. there is a kind of apathy here in the uk which is difficult to break through, because people assume that if their practice is working for them (or even if it isn't anymore), then all is fine in the world. there is a growing core group, many of whom are on hwc, who are aware of the need to do more, and they have been great supporters (even here on this forum - i see familiar people such as anne and jenny).

we need to find a way to get people to understand that their civil rights are under threat and their freedom to choose will be removed from them if they don't voice their concerns in some way. it sometimes feels like an uphill battle. it is very helpful and supportive to come onto a website like this one and see all the support worldwide for homeopathy.
"do you or anyone else on this forum have any ideas on ways to overcome the difficulties we faced in trying to get signatures? we found that those who were willing to sign immediately were very enthusiastic about it, but then it settled into a kind of malaise where we had to work very hard to get every signature. i lost my voice talking to people over several days at a trade fair, and we managed to achieve 2000 signatures then, but those did not expand into more signatures without constant input from us. we had hoped word of mouth would do it."
Thanks Jennifer and my suggestion here would be to mount a facebook or twitter campaign as was done with' ShockNoHaiti' on facebook shortly after the earthquake in January. I think we could get millions of signatures If we had a little introduction there on how our birth and human rights are being violated as are the rights of Mother Earth.
I am new to twitter and facebook but starting to get it on how effective a tool this can be in having one voice, one heart as a Global Village in defense of the GOOD, TRUE, and BEAUTIFUL.Maybe a Manifesto for a LIFE WITHOUT BORDERS and SOVEREIGNTY FOR ALL.
Debby can you help us out here on the Facebook/Twitter side of it?
Prayers All Around....
i haven't tried facebook yet, although my kids are constantly trying to get me to do it. i also need to look into twitter. eventually, i think i will join, i'm a bit slow with the technology, but definitely can see the value in it.

thanks for your suggestion, it is appreciated.
Yes my sons have helped me get facebook figured and then with the Twitter tutorials Debby has been giving this all helps to get on board...I find face book a little easier than Twitter but this is maybe because my sons are on it so much. If you go to Facebook on Google and sign up then login it is pretty self explanatory....let the children help they know everything!
Let's keep on top of this one...very important to a conscious future for all
Attachments:
Unfortunately there are always people who are reluctant to take a stand. I see so many people living in condominiums who won't speak out even when their property is allowed to deteriorate. It's the same in every issue.

But, not to be negative, here is a thought, if it hasn't already been done: telling people they could lose access to homeopathy, that it could be taken away from them tomorrow unless they act, might spur signatures from people who would not otherwise get involved.

This is a tactic commonly used, and since I see it used repeatedly by the same organizations in collecting financial contributions, I think it must work.
use orkut.com.its amazingsocialnetworking,use facebook.lets do it together.tell us what should we do to support u.I ndian homoeopaths r with u.we will mobilize signatures foru.find out which website si more popular there and use that.
Hello Dr. Sadathsait, I am now on orkut and also facebook can we get a thread going there now
What would be best for the subject line ? NOSHOCKHOMEOPATHY? HOMEOPATHYWITHOUTBORDERS? Then a short introduction as to why we need millions of signatures NOW maybe with the picture of the human hands around the planet/dove with olive branch?
I think it needs to be short and to the point and easy for people to sign and move on with their day...
The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is in the London borough of Camden, so whatever Camden Primary Care Trust decides will affect all patients in the greater London area, and in fact the future on homeopathy on the NHS.



ISLINGTON & CAMDEN PATIENTS

FOR INTEGRATED MEDICINE IN THE NHS

“We believe that choice should become a defining feature of the service.

A health service without freedom of choice is not personalised. So the right to choice

will now be part of the NHS Constitution, ensuring that people become more clearly aware of it.”

(High quality care for all, June 2008, Professor the Lord Darzi, Department of Health)


February, 2010

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED

Last November, the Camden PCT Board agreed to review the list of treatment at the RLHH which Camden GPs will be able to access for their patients. As the PCT report stated that there was insufficient evidence of clinical effectiveness for all RLHH treatments, the outcome looks bleak.

The PCT is establishing a project group to work on this and has promised to commence a pre-consultation stakeholder engagement process (initial discussions with interested parties) followed by a full public consultation. They have agreed to involve our group in the pre-consultation process.

It is very important that we register our concern about the possible loss of available NHS treatments at the hospital and how the lack of services will affect you.

Please write or email to:

Ms Liz Wise
Camden PCT
3rd Floor, Bedford House
125-133 Camden High Street, NW1 7JR

liz.wise@camdenpct.nhs.uk

Your communication must contain the words “THIS IS A FORMAL COMPLAINT”. All formal complaints must be recorded and a large increase in numbers on one subject will be noticed.

Your involvement in the Camden Link would be very helpful and if you are one of the people who have already expressed your interest in this to the RLHH’s League of Friends, I understand they will be contacting you about this in the next couple of months. Although, as you can imagine, following the publication of the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Report they are rather busy at present, but when next steps are finalised and you do hear from the League of Friends, do please try to become involved.

Please continue to support our campaign – it is so important to so many people

THANK YOU

Valerie Palmer

Picture (Metafile)

Group organiser: Valerie Palmer

Email: islington.camdenpatients@talktalk.net Tel (messages only): 020 7391 8930

Mail: c/o League of Friends, RLHH, 60 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3HR



Picture (Metafile)


This email has been sent via the League of Friends, Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital

______________________________

Ms Sato Liu, Projects Manager

60 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3HR

The Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital

Registered Charity No: 269289

Email: sato.liu@uclh.nhs.uk

Tel: 020 7391 8930

Fax: 020 7391 8829

http://www.savenhshomeopathy.org

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