NHS defends its decision to dump homeopathy

June 10, 2018

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Pseudoscience, Homeopathy, NHS, CAM

The NHS recently decided to stop funding homeopathy (opens new window). Until recently, taxpayers' money was used in the UK to fund homeopathic hospitals (in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and Tunbridge Wells) and prescriptions for homeopathy. In part of a suite of changes (opens new window) in an effort to avoid paying for ineffective treatments (including herbal remedies and fish oil), the NHS decided to stop paying money for these pseudoscientific medicines that don't work.

My understanding is that a group of skeptics in the UK, the Good Thinking Society, headed by Simon Singh (author of Trick or Treatment with Edzard Ernst) and Michael Marshall (who you can hear on the Skeptics with a K podcast), have been instrumental in pushing for the NHS to stop paying for homeopathy.

The British Homeopathic Association didn't like this move, and took the NHS to court. They complained that it was unfair that the NHS won't fund homeopathy on prescription. They also didn't like that Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, said that homeopathy was:

"at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds"

The BHA said that the NHS had made a decision before starting its consultation, but the judge accepted that the NHS was perfectly capable of changing its mind given new evidence.