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PCTs Abandon Funding For Homeopathy <~~~ VOTE THERE

Freedom of Information requests by GP magazine found that one in seven of PCTs in England paid for homeopathy services in 2011/12.

The number of PCTs funding homeopathy has fallen by a quarter since 2010/11, when one in five trusts funded it, and by half since 2008/9, when a third of trusts provided funding for it.

A total of 116 out of 152 PCTs responded to GP's request for data about trusts' 2010/11 and 2011/12 expenditure on services involving homeopathy. Previous GP research found 34% of PCTs funded it in 2008/9.

PCTs said homeopathy was now classified as a low priority because of poor evidence for its clinical effectiveness.

Two trusts withdrew funding after the House of Commons science committee said in 2010 that the NHS should not fund it. Another two said they planned to stop funding in 2012/13.

BMA view

BMA policy is that homeopathic remedies should not be funded on the NHS. GPC prescribing lead Dr Bill Beeby told GP: 'The BMA view is that scarce resources in the NHS shouldn’t be devoting to something that doesn’t have a strong evidence base.'

East Midlands GP Dr Joanne Watt said she expected NHS funding to fall further.

'In the difficult financial climate, we need to ensure the effectiveness of all interventions, and clinical effectiveness has not been proven for homeopathy,' she said. 'People may still choose to buy homeopathic products privately and that is their choice, but NHS finances should be spent in the most cost effective way possible.'

Shropshire LMC chairwoman Dr Mary McCarthy said NHS resources must be allocated carefully in times of financial restraint.

'The NHS should not continue funding homeopathy when trials have shown no evidence of benefit apart from placebo effects,' she said. 'This is not to say it should be unavailable but that those who want homeopathic remedies should pay for them.'

NHS Alliance

But NHS Alliance chairman and Devon GP Dr Michael Dixon said the NHS 'should embrace treatment that might obviate more costly care'.

'Homeopathy should be given to patients with conditions that might be helped, fully audited and assessed and then continued if found to be cost-effective,' he said.

Jeremy Hunt's appointment as health secretary led to suggestions he could promote the use of homeopathy. Before becoming health secretary, Mr Hunt told a constituent of the 'benefit' of homeopathy and signed a parliamentary motion on the 'positive contribution' of NHS homeopathic hospitals.


VOTE | Should homeopathic remedies be available on the NHS?

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