CCGs threatened with judicial review for choosing homeopathy

Liverpool NHS has announced it will re-assess its spending on homeopathic treatments after it was threatened with judicial review by pro-science charity The Good Thinking Society.

Liverpool CCG currently spends around £30,000 each year on homeopathic treatments. The CCG is not alone in its predicament, with The Good Thinking Society reportedly writing to twenty other CCGs who currently fund homeopathic treatments, requesting them to review their spending policies.

The system of homeopathy is based on the principle that ‘like cures like’ and was conceived by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Homeopathy treats ailments with minute doses of natural substances which have been highly diluted, and in larger amounts would produce the symptoms of the ailment itself. Homeopathy can be prescribed for a wide range of conditions including asthma, ear infections, hay fever, depression, stress and anxiety, allergies, dermatitis, arthritis and high blood pressure.

Recent estimates suggest that the NHS spends around £3m a year on homeopathic treatments. North Somerset and South Gloucestershire spend around £200,000 a year on treatments from Bristol Homeopathic Hospital. In a time of cuts, there has been growing pressure on CCGs to cut back spending on complementary and alternative therapies.

The NHS website states that The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which advises the NHS on proper use of treatments, does not recommend that homeopathy should be used in the treatment of any health condition. It refers to a 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy which found that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are ‘scientifically implausible’. The website states that this is also the view of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

“Homeopathic treatments when paid for by the NHS are a waste of crucial resources that would be better spent on evidence-based and effective treatments. We are delighted at the decision of the Liverpool CCG to rethink its misguided policy on spending money on homeopathy.”- Simon Singh, Chairman, The Good Thinking Society.

A spokesperson for Liverpool CCG commented: “Liverpool CCG currently resources a small homeopathy contract to the value of £30,000 per year that benefits a small number of patients in the city who choose to access NHS homeopathy care and treatment services. The CCG has agreed with The Good Thinking Society to carry out further engagement with patients and the general public to inform our future commissioning intentions for this service.”

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