I think most of us have balked at Homeopathic treatments being available on the NHS, that there are even Homeopathic hospitals in the UK seems ridiculous! (and no they don’t just consist of a memory of a hospital, they are actual real things!) Online I have often seen Homeopathy advocates citing this as justification of its efficacy. The very fact it is available on the NHS lends it false credibility that it just does not deserve. Well, now someone is legally challenging the NHS stance and spending on Homeopathy.
Who is behind the challenge?
The Good Thinking Society, working with Bindmans LLP is currently engaged in challenging Liverpool CCG. The Good Thinking Society is a charity set up by Simon Singh and is funded by donations. As their website states they want ‘to encourage curiosity and rational thinking’ and in so doing often find themselves battling quackery and pseudoscience. Their past projects include setting up www.homeopathyawarenessweek.org last year, which had 77,000 readers during last years homeopathy awareness week, becoming the top Google hit for ‘Homeopathy Awareness Week’ (higher, even, than official sites) and gaining coverage in the Guardian and Boing Boing. They also organised Psychic Awareness Month last October, during which they worked with the Skeptic community to distribute Mark Tilbrook’s information leaflet to Psychic Show attendees.
It’s the duty of CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups of which there are 211 in the England) to ensure the NHS funds are spent effectively. With this in mind, The Good Thinking Society and Bindmans LLP has invited Liverpool CCG to consider whether Homeopathic treatments offered on the NHS represent a a good and cost effective service to the patients and tax payers of Liverpool.
It should be noted at this point that not all CCGs budget for Homeopathic treatments, Milton Keynes happily does not, but there are pockets in England that do and for the most part surround areas in which Homeopathic hospitals are still operating.
In April 2015, Liverpool CCG conceded their challenge and agreed to make a fresh decision on the issue.
How much is spent?
In the current climate it is becoming increasingly common to hear of all sorts of treatments being refused to patients due to cost. My son was even refused prescription formula as a baby due to the high cost. Not to mention money that could be spent on doctors and nurses salaries. So it is understandable that great frustration is felt by many when they see funding for a worthless treatment such as homeopathy.
If the current spending were to continue at the same rate, just in Liverpool CCG alone, in a decade, they will have spent £350,000 on Homeopathy.
Happily prescriptions have fallen greatly in recent years and homeopathic hospitals have found their funding reallocated, which indicates that most doctors are acting responsibly, but a positive result will help the NHS bring to an end the funding of a this useless treatment and enable the money to be put to better use. Which will be better for patients and tax payers alike.
How can we help?
The Good Thinking Society is a charity and is entirely funded by donations but of course all this work and legal representation comes at a cost. Preparing for the Judicial Review took a lot of staff time and incurred significant legal costs. Because they were successful, they will recover most of their legal costs, but they still require £10,000 to cover ongoing expert legal advice and to play a role in the upcoming Liverpool CCG consultation on homeopathy. Moreover, they will be exploring similar legal challenges to homeopathy elsewhere in the NHS. They are looking to raise £10,000. At the time of writing it stands at £6,683.25
You can donate via the Just Giving website or directly from your phone.
Just text ‘NOHP99 £xx’ to 70070. (just replace the xx with chosen amount) Many have of course been pledging £10.23 to the cause! Make sure you follow the instructions so The Good Thinking Society can get the Gift Aid too.
If you would like a more detailed run down of the legal challenge you can find out more on The Good Thinking Society Website