NHS Provision Of Homeopathy In The Spotlight
The most recent issue of Pulse, the GP newspaper, devotes considerable column space to homeopathy. An article outlining the funding issues between the NHS homeopathic hospitals and primary care trusts (PCTs) is featured, as well as a head to head debate between Dr Tim Robinson, a GP and member of the Faculty of Homeopathy, and Professor Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter.
Dr Robinson provides convincing arguments for the use of homeopathy in General Practice. Audit of his homeopathic prescribing, all done within his normal consultation times, showed three quarters of patients with positive clinical outcomes. Many of these patients had previously been treated unsuccessfully with conventional medicine and the fact that the treatment occurred in a normal GP surgery counters Professor Ernst's argument that homeopathy is only placebo and popular because of the long time that practitioners spend with their patients.
Professor Ernst's comment that evidence fails to show that homeopathic treatment is better than placebo for any given condition is not upheld by examining the trial results. The majority of comprehensive reviews of randomised controlled trials in homeopathy suggest that homeopathy is more than the placebo effect and there have been positive meta-analyses for a number of specific clinical conditions including childhood diarrhoea, influenza, rheumatic diseases, hay fever and vertigo.
The Faculty of Homeopathy is committed to increasing the evidence base in homeopathy and is encouraging its members to audit and research their work as much as possible. Many of its members are looking at creative new ways in which the undoubted benefits of homeopathy can be used alongside conventional medicine in the rapidly changing NHS.
Sally Penrose, chief executive of the Faculty of Homeopathy and British Homeopathic Association comments: "The homeopathic hospitals provide a specialist service that has helped hundreds of thousands of NHS patients over the last 60 years and has extremely high levels of patient satisfaction. They are particularly well equipped to treat patients whose complex chronic health problems have not been effectively treated by conventional medicine.
There is great potential to develop GP-led homeopathy services in primary care but these must sit alongside the homeopathic hospital services. As centres of excellence, they provide a focus for education, research and clinical governance and represent great value for money to the taxpayer for a tiny portion of the NHS budget."