New – Homeopathy in the NHS and in Private Practice
HISTORY AND CURRENT STATE OF HOMEOPATHY IN THE UK
It is not commonly known, but Homeopathy has always been available on the NHS because its founder, Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, had a homeopathic doctor and insisted that homeopathy must be included. He wrote in 1948 that “…under the National Health Service Act homeopathic institutions will be enabled to provide their own form of treatment and that the continuity of the characteristics of those institutions will be maintained…”
Homeopathy’s history in Britain goes much further back. Homeopath Peter Morrell wrote a fascinating History of Homeopathy in Britain and the following quotes are from his article:
“Homeopathy was introduced into the UK by Dr Frederick Hervey Foster Quin (1799-1878) in the 1830′ … Quin was of aristocratic birth, and is widely regarded as the love-child of Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire and the Irish peer Sir Valentine Richard Quin, 1st Earl of Dunraven. After graduating MD in 1820 in Edinburgh (his thesis was on Arsenic poisoning), Dr Quin then became the Duchess’s family physician and travelled with her entourage. He met Hahnemann, and travelled extensively in Europe, residing for a time both in Rome and Naples. A fluent French-speaker and Francophile, Quin was revered by the French as Hahnemann’s greatest successor, and appointed on Hahnemann’s death as the Honorary President of the Gallic Homeopathic Society … a post he held until his death. … He introduced homeopathy into the very highest levels of English society…The modern British royal devotion to homeopathy also began through Dr Quin….. [He] established the British Homeopathic Society (BHS) in 1843, a London hospital in 1850 and the British Journal of Homeopathy (BJH) in 1844. The BHS became the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1944, while the BJH became the BHJ in 1911. The Faculty is the training and controlling body of medical homeopathy in the UK and also trains many homeopaths from abroad. … (But) the aristocratic link meant that British homeopathy tended to be very largely confined to fashionable spa towns, to wealthy coastal resorts and to London and southern England in general, unlike Botanic medicine, which was popular in northern, industrial cities. It thus never established itself at working-class level. And thus it had no popular support to fall back on as the aristocrats went into decline after 1890. Three exceptions to this geographical pattern … are Bristol (est. 1832), Glasgow (est. 1909), and Liverpool (est. 1837). ….. The continued decline of homeopathy caused some homeopathic doctors to despair for its future in Britain. As a result of these fears, a small minority of homeopathic doctors (eg. Dr J H Clarke, 1853-1931) broke away from the BHS, began to teach some laypersons the rudiments of homeopathy. …
As a result of these developments, a new tradition of lay homeopathy was established in Britain. While the number of homeopathic doctors went first into decline and then into stagnation, the lay movement of the 1920’s and 30’s, by contrast, enjoyed great popularity, extending well into the 40’s and 50’s. …. in 1978, and after two decades of inactivity, a group of lay practitioners established their own Society of Homeopaths, a Register, College (The London College of Homeopathy), Journal (The Homeopath) and Code of Ethics,
This sudden burst of renewed activity led to a very rapid expansion of homeopathy in the UK, and more colleges became quickly established during the 1980’s and 1990’s … The lay movement is now a semi-legitimised profession with its own mode of registration, unified teaching syllabuses, training procedures and self-regulation. …. There are approximately 1000 registered homeopaths working in [private practice] in the UK at present with probably the same number of licensed and unregistered homeopaths, and around 1000 medical doctors who practise some form of homeopathy.” Source: http://www.homeoint.org/morrell/articles/pm_brita.htm
Back to NHS Homeopathy: At the time of Aneurin Bevan, then, Homeopathy was already in decline in Britain, but there were still five homeopathic hospitals (London, Glasgow, Bristol, Liverpool and Tunbridge Wells). Under the continuing efforts of the homeopathy deniers such as the Good Thinking Society (see our “If it is so good why don’t doctors use it” page – LINK) , all these hospitals have either closed, or had to or chose to rename themselves. The former Royal London Homeopathic Hospital became the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine in 2010; it prides itself as the “the largest public-sector provider of integrated medicine in Europe” and you will not find the word Homeopathy anywhere on its website, although homeopathic treatments are still offered. The Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital became the Centre for Integrative Care on the Gartnavel Hospital campus, and is part of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. In Bristol homeopathic services ceased at the hospital in October 2015. The Hahnemann Hospital in Liverpool closed in 1976; and the Homeopathic Hospital in Tunbridge Wells, established in 1902, closed in 2009.
All this does not mean that homeopathy is no longer available on the NHS. In fact the NHS website only states that “Homeopathy isn’t widely available on the NHS” (our emphasis). On this website you also find misinformation perpetuated; in the opening paragraph about Homeopathy you can read the following nonsense:
Homeopathy is a “treatment” based on the use of highly diluted substances, which practitioners claim can cause the body to heal itself.
A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos (dummy treatments).
The review also said that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”.
What is important to know in this context is that since 2007 NHS Choices has been contracted out to various private companies. The website is currently administered under contract by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee who would have a vested interest in promoting pharmaceutical solutions to health care. The articles are not written by health professionals and therefore it is difficult, if not impossible, to confirm the veracity of the information given to patients.
Also, you can read about the severely flawed 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report elsewhere on our website.
NHS DUTY TO CONSULT
NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups are obliged under the provisions of Section 242(1A & 1B) of the National Health Service Act 2006, as amended by the Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, to involve users of NHS services in decision making. The public has a right to be involved. All aspects of commissioning have to be open to the public. Commissioning must be sensitive to the needs of patients.
Apart from the legislation mentioned above, there are further Acts conferring the right to patient involvement, such as: The Local Government Public Involvement in Health Act – Duty to Involve (Sections 233 & 234); the Healthcare Standard C18: All members of the public are entitled to access services equally; there must be an inclusion of different interest groups including seldom heard ones; and the Care Quality Commission’s Core Standards C17 & C18, which verifies the need for patient involvement.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE IN MEDICINE
According to the constitution of the NHS, “You have the right to make choices about your NHS care and to information to support these choices. The options available to you will develop over time and depend on your individual needs.” And “You have the right to be given information about your proposed treatment in advance, including any significant risks and any alternative treatments which may be available, and the risks involved in doing nothing.”
The reason why this right is denied to most patients seeking homeopathic treatment on the NHS is, of course, the huge misinformation about Homeopathy among medical doctors and administrators of the NHS involved in developing commissioning strategies and regulations. In the face of all the evidence to the contrary, they maintain that homeopathic medicines are just sugar pills.
Our voices, the voices of patients and those of doctor homeopaths and professional homeopaths, have not been loud enough. In this battle for sustainable, safer and cheaper health care in the NHS needs all of us to be prepared to speak out clearly and loudly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO ACCESS HOMEOPATHY IN THE NHS
Write letters to your Clinical Commissions Group, to your local Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, to your MP. Attend public NHS meeting where appropriate. Tell your GP that you use Homeopathy! If you get evasive answers, persist! If you are being ridiculed, ignore! The more frequently and the louder the message gets out that patients use homeopathy and want more of it on the NHS, the more likely it will be that we are heard.
Within the next two weeks we will add template letters to this site, for you to use or to provide you with ideas for your own letters.