NHS Bolton to halt homeopathy treatments
8:56am Thursday 18th November 2010 in News
HOMEOPATHIC treatments will no longer be offered on the NHS in Bolton after government experts said they do not work.
The news emerges as other NHS trusts in other parts of the country decide to delay offering some common treatments, including routine elective hip, knee and shoulder surgery, IVF treatment, weight loss surgery, hospital treatment for back pain, oral surgery and orthodontic procedures and treatment of cataracts.
All these treatments will continue to be funded and offered in Bolton, but homeopathy is one of the losers in a long list of other changes advised by the Government.
Advice from the Government’s science and technology committee says the NHS should stop funding homeopathy because there is no evidence that it works, beyond being a placebo.
Their advice says: “Beyond ethical issues and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship, prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine.
“Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS.”
As a result, doctors in Bolton will no longer prescribe homeopathic remedies and patients will no longer be referred to homeopaths.
Among the other changes are the way in which vitamins are prescribed, what drugs are used to treat ME and how long treatments should last for patients who live abroad.
A full list of the changes is available on NHS Bolton’s website.
An NHS Bolton spokesman said: “We looked at homeopathy earlier in the year in the light of work by the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee and reviews by other primary care trusts across the country.
“As there is no clear evidence that homeopathy can deliver real benefits to patients, beyond a placebo effect, we decided in March that the prescribing, referral and recommendation of homeopathy is a low priority and cannot be supported.”
Bolton homeopath Gill Upham said the move was a bad idea and would cost the NHS more money in the long run.
Mrs Upham, who runs a homeopathy business in Chorley Old Road, Bolton, said: “It’s short-sighted, because homeopathy can save the NHS lots of money.
“The drugs bill is virtually nil and it aims to cure patients rather than just treat the symptoms.”
She added: “Homeopathy is not a placebo because it works on animals. Organic farmers use it on cows to treat mastitis, for example. It works on cows, and the cows don’t know what’s happening.”