Humanist Society calls on Scottish Government to end homeopathy referrals

The NHS in Scotland spent £1.7 million on homeopathy in 2015/16.

THE HUMANIST SOCIETY SCOTLAND (HSS) has urged the Scottish Government to end NHS funding for homeopathy referrals.

Gordon MacCrae, chief executive of the HSS, has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison, calling for a review into how Scottish NHS boards are funding homeopathic practices.

The call follows the recent announcement by NHS England that funding for homeopathic treatments will be brought to an end, in the aftermath of a consultation period which indicated such treatments were neither clinically effective nor cost-effective.

“Homeopathy has continually been shown, time after time, to be no more effective than a simple placebo effect. The fact that the NHS in Scotland is spending over £1.5m a year on unproven remedies will stick in the throats of patients and campaigners who can see better uses for this resource in the NHS.” Gordon MacCrae, chief executive of the Humanist Society Scotland

The HSS’s demand also comes in the wake of research conducted by the Good Thinking Society (GTS), which found that during 2015/16, Scotland spent over £1.7 million on homeopathy, with over £1.2 million of that figure spent by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Grampian spending £214,000 and £177,000 respectively.

According to the GTS’s findings, only six of Scotland’s fourteen NHS health boards still fund homeopathic treatments as of 2015/16.

If the proposed changes in NHS England funding go ahead, Scotland will be the only part of the UK that still funds homeopathical treatments via the NHS.

MacCrae said: “It is absolutely vital that NHS spending is directed towards meaningful and effective treatments that have a real prospect of treating illnesses and other medical complaints.

“Homeopathy has continually been shown, time after time, to be no more effective than a simple placebo effect. The fact that the NHS in Scotland is spending over £1.5m a year on unproven remedies will stick in the throats of patients and campaigners who can see better uses for this resource in the NHS. Our NHS health treatments should be directed by robust scientific studies which show actual medical benefits."

If the proposed changes in NHS England funding go ahead, Scotland will be the only part of the UK that still funds homeopathical treatments via the NHS.

Quoted in the National newspaper, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government recognises that some complementary and alternative medicines, including homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions.

“It is for individual NHS boards to decide which therapies they make available based on national and local priorities and the needs of their resident populations, in line with national guidance.”

Picture courtesy of Opacity

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