Local Homeopathy Cuts In Stark Contrast To British National Picture
Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital is receiving NHS referrals for the next eight months before contracts are due to cease. The situation there is more complicated than the loss of a small homeopathic service and involves widespread cuts to many local services deemed to be expendable, largely due to bad management by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust. This is a regional decision with no implications for the other four NHS homeopathic hospitals. It fly’s in the face of patient choice and adversely affects around 500 NHS patients who currently benefit from homeopathic treatment over the course of a year. At an estimated cost of ?400 per patient, this is a cheap service with exceptional results.
The picture at the other four NHS Homeopathic Hospitals is very different, with GP/PCT referrals either stable or growing. In fact the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is over-performing on their contract: the hospital is ahead of its target for numbers of new and follow-up patients set by the University College London Hospital(s) Trust.
The Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital (GHH) has had stable appointments over the last five years, and its new chronic fatigue syndrome service, commissioned by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, will attract more patients with this difficult illness, which homeopathy is known to help significantly.
At Bristol Homeopathic Hospital (BHH) referrals to homeopathy have increased in recent months and are unchanged compared to a year ago. New referrals come mainly from oncologists referring patients suffering side effects from cancer treatments, for which there is a good evidence base.
NHS homeopathy is provided by regulated health professionals, is supported by a good evidence-base and has consistently excellent outcomes. The positive trend will continue because patients find homeopathic treatment helpful, often when conventional treatment has failed or has caused unwanted side effects. There is no evidence to suggest that the popularity of homeopathy has diminished, nor is there evidence of a ‘shift in attitude’ among doctors.
Three years ago, economist Christopher Smallwood found that half of all NHS referrals for complementary therapy were for homeopathy, using service agreements between Primary Care Trusts and homeopathy providers and despite some shifting around, this is largely the case now. Smallwood also suggested substantial savings could be made by introducing homeopathy into general practice.