Good news! The UK government finally seems to be taking the necessary action against homeopathy to rid it from the NHS. A prolonged and detailed campaign by The Good Thinking Society, and their threat of a judicial review, has finally had the desired effect. The government has said that next year it will conduct a review to see if all homeopathic remedies should be classed as Schedule 1. This is effectively a blacklist from which doctors are not allowed to prescribe as the items on the list are considered to either be too expensive or not effective. Obviously homeopathy falls into the second category.
Clearly victory is not yet complete, at this point they have said they will only look into it, but we can be hopeful. Also, even if they do blacklist homeopathy, it won’t make much of a difference to the industry itself. The NHS only spends about £4m per year on this particular brand of witchcraft, most of the industry makes its money from over the counter sales and there’s nothing we can do to stop that other than educating people. The 1023 campaign is a nice place to start.
On the face of it this is a great step in the right direction. What is so disappointing is that it has taken the threat of legal action from a charity to inspire the government into action. Why wasn’t the clear scientific evidence enough? Why, in these continued economically difficult times, was it not enough of a reason to want to spend NHS money on treatments that actually work? In any case, more power to the elbow of The Good Thinking Society and everyone else who has campaigned to get us this far; perhaps we are now in the home straight.
I’m particularly interested to know what effect this would have on The Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. Until recently this was known as the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and is one of the biggest winners when it comes to throwing money down the homeopathic drain. It is a part of the UCLH NHS Foundation Trust, a genuinely world leading healthcare organisation that provides first rate, high quality healthcare to millions. It’s also the Trust I work for and, though it may not be wise for me to say so, it continues to be a source of embarrassment that 100 yards down the road from my building there is this monument to stupidity lurking like a Victorian boogey man. I like to think that the name change was a tacit admission of guilt and that the powers that be know that there is no merit in homeopathy, but whilst there is a single penny of public money spent on this nonsense we all need to keep shouting from the rafters that it is simply not on.