The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) is the UK’s professional organisation of ‘lay-homeopaths’, therapists who treat patients without having studied medicine. They prefer the term ‘professional homeopathy’, but there is little professional about them, it seems. The SoH has a long track record of endangering public health by promoting anti-vaxx nonsense.
A few months ago, it was reported that Linda Wicks, chair of the Society of Homeopaths (S0H), has shared a series of petitions claiming that childhood immunisations are unsafe. Mrs Wicks also posted a petition supporting Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former doctor who falsely linked the MMR vaccine to autism claiming that the scientific establishment’s rejection of his flawed research was ‘the greatest lie ever told’.
In 2018, I pointed out that the SoH was violating its own code of ethics. At the time, two new members were appointed to the Society’s Public Affairs (PAC) and Professional Standards (PSC) committees, and both were promoting the deeply anti-vaxx CEASE therapy.
Today, THE TELEGRAPH reports that Sue Pilkington, the SoH’s ‘Head of Standards’, has been promoting anti-vaxx propaganda online. On April 14, she posted anti-vaxx content made by the ‘Children’s Health Defense’ – an organisation accused by NBC News last year as being one of the largest global creators of spreading misinformation’. The page advised that any new vaccine could trigger “lethal” immune reactions.
In a separate post on Facebook, Pilkington shared a post that describes vaccines as “poison” – alongside medical advice declaring that no child should be vaccinated, if any member of their family has a skin disorder. Pilkington also tried to contact Health Secretary Matt Hancock, attempting to share with him a video of content from an American comedian claiming that it’s ‘realistic’ for vaccines to cause autism.
As though this were not enough nonsense, Pilkington also promotes homeopathy as a solution to the current epidemic. On her homeopathy business website, she has section on coronavirus which states the following: “The current primary homeopathic remedy advised for Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) symptoms is Gelsemium with a possible following remedy of Eupatorium Perforatum, Bryonia or Belladonna depending on how the symptoms progress”. Other homeopathic remedies are in common use for people with influenza and pneumonia, according to Pilkington, these do not “prevent viruses” but may “reduce the severity and length of illness”. She also claims that homeopathy has a “great track record of success in epidemics” – referencing both the Spanish influenza pandemic and the bird flu pandemic.
“In our opinion, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has a simple choice to make: remove the SoH and their uninformed vaccination paranoia from the register, or continue to allow homeopaths to make these dangerous claims with the tacit approval of the PSA.” said Michael Marshall, projector director of the Good Thinking Society.
A government health spokesperson was quoted in today’s TELEGRAPH article stating this: “Vaccine misinformation in any form – book, film, website or otherwise – is completely unacceptable.” The spokesperson added that NICE does not recommend homeopathy for the treatment of any health condition and noted that vaccines “save lives and are a foundation of public health.”
In this matter, the role of the PSA is paramount and Michael Marshall’s advice (quoted by Edzard above) should be acted upon – immediately.
The Professional Standards Authority: “Parliament oversees our work. The Privy Council consults on the budget we say we need to do our work and sets the fees that the regulators must pay. The Health Committee can call us to appear and give account of our work.
We were set up under the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002. Our legislation has been amended since then. We have the authority to (inter alia):
• Accredit voluntary registers that meet our standards – and suspend accreditation, apply conditions and remove accreditation.”
The PSA claims it bases its work on: “Integrity; transparency; respect; fairness; teamwork.”
Parliament should judge whether it complies – with integrity especially.
Note: The PSA states: “The regulator has a role in ensuring that students and trainees obtain the required skills and knowledge to be safe and EFFECTIVE.”
Given homeopathic remedies have never been shown to be effective, it is hard to see how SoH complies with this requirement of the PSA.
On 10th June 2020 the Professional Standards Authority renewed the SoH’s accreditation:
“The Society of Homeopaths’ accreditation has been renewed subject to the following Condition:
1. The Society of Homeopaths must:
a. make its position statements clear that registrants must not practise or advertise adjunctive therapies that are incompatible with Society registration. Specific reference must be made to the Society’s position forbidding the practice of CEASE, and dietary/nutritional supplements. This must be submitted to the Authority for review and published within three months
b. make its position statements clear that registrants’ scope of practice does not allow registrants, whether acting in a professional or public capacity, to provide advice on vaccination or offer or provide homeopathy as an alternative to vaccination for the prevention of serious infectious diseases. Registrants should direct service users to NHS and other public health sources, for example, their GP or public health departments. Revised statements must be submitted to the Authority for review and published within three months.
The SoH itself stated in May 2020:
“Advice for the Public on vaccination: Homeopaths are not able to offer advice on vaccination. The Society recommends that members of the public seek the advice of their GP and/or relevant Department of Health guidelines concerning vaccination and protection against disease.”
The Soh does not comply. The PSA must act. Now. And remove SoH accreditation by PSA. Simple.
another blog post on the SoH:
Years ago when statutory regulation was mooted, the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) was told in no uncertain terms by the Department of Health that anti-vaccination was an obstacle. Its members didn’t give up their anti-vaccination views. Some toned down what they said online, others did not bother. As statutory regulation never happened, the SoH never had to deal with its members.
Why anti-vaccination wasn’t an obstacle to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) granting Accreditation in the first place is unknown. It’s only with a great deal of effort that the PSA have been made to realise how prevalent anti-vaccintion is among SoH and how extreme some of the members are. The SoH have been extremely reluctant to deal with the issue, possibly because the Board and other senior homeopaths are anti-vaccination themselves. It’s also the case that talking a tougher line on anti-vaccination and CEASE therapy has lost them members.
It’s difficult to see how the SoH can deal with anti-vaccination given the very strong hold it has on some members. Stop members from publicly spouting their beliefs is one thing (and it struggles to do that) but changing their beliefs? Is that even possible?
The SoH does have the option of withdrawing from the Accredited Registers scheme rather than have the PSA remove it.
SoH will play PSA for as long as they can. They will lose little custom by losing accreditation but whilst it’s there for the taking… thank you so much. The NHS has given homeopathy the old heave-ho. The PSA is left holding the bathwater. Chuck it out PSA, there’s no baby in it. It’s just water, don’t you know? Acupuncture ditto. You look stupid PSA. Accrediting stupidity is stupid.
You are crediting the SoH with having a strategy. I don’t think it has one, well nothing coherent. The SoH craves official approval of any kind. Its members? Some not so much.
Certainly no strategy. They will wriggle around but won’t change their spots. PSA should not give them wriggle room. Accrediting a ludicrous cult is ludicrous.
I note that there is a documentary on the UK’s Channel 4 tomorrow evening, called The Anti-Vax Conspiracy: