The British Homeopathic Association (BHA) is a registered charity founded in 1902 which aims to promote and develop the study and practice of homeopathy and to advance education and research in the theory and practice of homeopathy. The British Homeopathic Association’s overall priority is to ensure that homeopathy is available to all…
One does not need a particularly keen sense of critical thinking to suspect that this aim is not in line with a charitable status. Homeopathy for all would not be an improvement of public health. On the contrary, the best evidence shows that this concept would lead to a deterioration of it. It would mean less money for effective treatments. Who could argue that this is a charitable aim?
Currently, the BHA seems to focus on preventing that the NHS England stops the reimbursement of homeopathic remedies. They even have initiated a petition to this effect. Here is the full text of this petition, entitled ‘Stop NHS England from removing herbal and homeopathic medicines’:
NHS England is consulting on recommendations to remove herbal and homeopathic medicines from GP prescribing. The medicines cost very little and have no suitable alternatives for many patients. Therefore we call on NHS England to continue to allow doctors to prescribe homeopathy and herbal medicine.
Many NHS patients either suffer such severe side-effects from pharmaceutical drugs they cannot take them, or have been given all other conventional medicines and interventions with no improvement to their health. These patients will continue to need treatment on the NHS and will end up costing the NHS more with conventional prescriptions. There will be no cost savings and patient health will suffer. It is clear stopping homeopathic & herbal prescriptions will not help but hurt the NHS.
I find the arguments and implications of this petition pathetic and misleading. Here is why:
- NHS England is not considering to remove homeopathy from GPs’ prescribing. To the best of my knowledge, the plan is for the NHS to stop paying for homeopathic remedies. If some patients then still want homeopathy, they can get it, but will have to pay for it themselves. That seems entirely fair and rational. Why should we, the tax payers, pay for ineffective treatments?
- Because homeopathic remedies are not effective for any condition, it seems misleading to call them ‘medicines’.
- That homeopathy costs very little is not true; and even if it were correct, it would be neither here or there. The initiative is not primarily about money, it is about the principle: either the NHS adheres to EBM and ethical standards, or not.
- Homeopathy is not a ‘suitable alternative’ for anything, and it is misleading to call it thus.
- Even if NHS England decides against the funding homeopathic remedies, GPs could still be allowed to prescribe them; the only change would be that the NHS would not pay for them.
- Patients who ‘will continue to need treatment on the NHS’ under the described circumstances will not be helped by ineffective treatments like homeopathy.
- It is simply wrong to claim with certainty that there will be no cost savings.
- If the NHS scraps ineffective treatments, patients will suffer not more but less because they might actually receive a treatment that does work.
- It is fairly obvious that stopping to pay for homeopathic remedies will bring progress, help the NHS, patients and the general public.
Nine false or misleading statements in such a short text might well be a new record, even for homeopaths. Perhaps the BHA should apply for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
Should we start a petition?