Friday, 21 June 2013

Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, and 'Saving Money' by stopping the funding of Homeopathy?

The NHS would save huge amounts of money if they gave patients access to Homeopathy. Homeopathic treatment is less expensive than conventional medical treatment, and because it is more effective, it saves on future costs too.

The NHS spends only about £4 million on Homeopathy. This is a tiny amount, and certainly not enough to make any real effect on the burgeoning and crippling costs of conventional drugs and vaccines with an NHS dominated by the big pharmaceutical companies. Nor does it take into account the damage these drug and vaccines cause to our health through so-called 'adverse reactions', more accurately described as disease-inducing effects, or 'DIEs' of these so-called medicines.

This small sum is certainly far less than was envisaged when the NHS was inaugurated in 1947.

".... 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...."
Robin Dowie, Postgraduate medical education and training: the system in England and Wales, (King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London, 28 May 1987). (and quoted in http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2008/02/05/aneurin-bevan-and-homeopathy/).

So whilst millions of people in Britain use Homeopathy, and other complementary therapies, access to it has been increasingly restricted within the NHS bureaucracy, dominated as it is by the Conventional Medical (ConMed) Establishment. And even though demand for Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Osteopathy and other CAM therapies is rising year by year, this demand is being serviced privately, outside the NHS, for those people who can afford to consult CAM therapists.

The attack on Homeopathy within the NHS has been consistent, and increasingly hostile. The decision of NHS East Lothian to withdraw funding from CAM therapies, and particular, the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, is just the latest such attack on funding. Apparently, they are doing so to save just £250,000, money that not only funded homeopathic remedies in the area, but also provided over 1,000 appoints each year. NHS Lothian tried to defend their decision by saying that a survey they conducted found 72% opposed to the funding, with 27% in favour. What they suggest is that health funding is a kind of 'winner takes all' system, that health freedom is unimportant. Perhaps they have not heard of 'Patient Choice' as the effect of their decision is to remove funding for medical treatment for over 1/4 of their population (and by virtue of their own, dodgy figures).

The British Homeopathy Association has vehemently opposed this decision.
"The BHA maintains that to cease funding the homeopathy service does not make sense economically, for the patients currently receiving homeopathic treatment are not going to disappear as many of them have chronic problems that have failed to respond to conventional treatment. Concerns have already been expressed by NHS Lothian itself that withdrawing funding for homeopathy will result in an increase in GP appointments, referrals to secondary care services and prescribing costs for conventional medicine".
All of which, of course, will cost more than they have saved by this short-sighted decision, made by people with a vested interest in the future of ConMed, drug-based medicine. Indeed, the savings just don't add up - as this assessment by a retired GP in the area clearly states. His assessment indicates that the savings produced could be as little as £80,000 per year, and he claims that the public are being misled by NHS Lothian.

There have been many opportunities to take advantages of the savings Homeopathy would bring to the NHS. When the Smallwood report was launched in 2005, Christopher Smallwood said that:
 "the weight of evidence we have examined suggest that CAM medicines could play a larger role in the delivery of healthcare, and help to fill recognised gaps in healthcare provision".
However, he also made it clear that many people could not afford to access these therapies privately, and that as a result, people in less well-off areas did not have access to such treatments.
"Complementary medicine remains out of reach for many low income families, those who would have found most benefit from its provision".
Smallwood called on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE) to assess the cost-effectiveness of CAM therapies. Naturally, this was not done. NICE is, after all, as much part of the ConMed Establishment as the NHS itself - so the recommendation was ignored.

However, whenever patients are offered Homeopathy, it has been shown that they value it. A study undertaken at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital in 2005 showed that over 70% of patients with chronic diseases reported positive health changes after treatment. More than 6,500 patients took part in the 6-year study that focused on the treatment of Eczema, the Menopause, and Arthritis. With asthmatic children, 89% reported improvement following homeopathic treatment.

So what was the response of the ConMed Establishment to this evidence? The Lancet concluded, at about the same time, that using homeopathy was no better than taking dummy drugs! The ConMed Establishment seems to take little note of patient's wishes!

In a paper written by D. Reilly in 2006, entitled "The Evidence for Homeopathy", he reached the following conclusion, even though, as he states, he began his research being highly sceptical about its benefits.
"The evidence mosaic for homeopathy summarised here tends to reinforce clinicians and patients experience that this approach can make a valuable contribution to care..... Now reports from the Scottish Office Department of Health (see below), and the Working Party chaired by HRH Prince Charles (the Smallwood Report) have recommended further exploration of the integration of some complementary therapies, including homeopathy, more full into health care. They have called for more support for education and research in this area and recommended that providers 'endeavour to achieve a controlled exploration of the costs and benefits of integrating complementary medicine with conventional medicine... and should ensure that the service is accessible to all who need it".
The Scottish Office report, mentioned above, is also probably attracting dust on some remote and forgotten shelf. Reference to it are as follows:
A report by the National Medical Advisory Committee. Scottish Office Department of Health. November 1996. Complementary Medicine and the National Health Service. An examination of Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Chropractic and Osteopathy.

Another pilot study was undertaken in Northern Ireland, and evaluated by the Department of Health in 2008. The conclusion of this large exercise were again very positive, showing not only the benefit of CAM treatment to patients, but also the respite it gave to GP's.
"The feedback from patients was overwhelmingly positive, with patients welcoming quick access to expert care provided by a team of high quality and dedicated CAM practitioners. The interaction between patients and CAM practitioners also led to patients being provided with opportunity to learn and acquire self management strategies to manage, and further improve their health status.
The evaluation has also provided some evidence of a reduction in GP workload, with many of the participating GPs indicating that they were seeing their patients less often. Furthermore, the evaluation has also produced evidence that patients, following their treatment, were using less medication, as well as using other health services less often. This points to the potential of CAM for reducing costs within the health and social services in Northern Ireland. Finally, the overall project was delivered to more than 700 patients within the allocated project budget. This was a key objective at the outset.
Again, it is the last paragraph that should be noted by doctors, the NHS, the Department of Health, and the Government - if, of course, they are really interested in what patients actually want. And if they really want to reduce the costs of the NHS, of course. 

Effective medical therapies cost less because they help people overcome illness. CAM therapies heal, and so the costs of on-going health, and related social care costs, are reduced.
Homeopathy does not cause adverse reactions, they do not cause disease, so using it saves on the need to treat 'new' diseases, caused by the conventional vaccines and drugs used for the 'old' diseases!
Yet the advantage of Homeopathy is not just that it is safe and effective. It is also inexpensive. Why?

  • Homeopathy does not rely on expensive medical testing to seek diagnosis. 
  • Homeopathy can treat and cure disease successfully, and often permanently. 
  • Homeopathic Remedies cost the merest fraction of the cost of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines.
  • The effectiveness of Homeopathy can avoid or reduce the need for expensive surgical interventions. 
  • And, of course, Homeopathy does not cause new diseases that then need to be treated.

Perhaps this is why the ConMed Establishment is so afraid of Homeopathy, and works so hard to attack and condemn it, and to prevent patients gaining access to what many of them want. The Conventional Medical Establishment have a lot to lose!

The history of Homeopathy is a proud one. Once there were at least 14 Homeopathic Hospitals, and Homeopathy had a small, but important place within the NHS. Now even the remaining few are under threat. It is only patients who are suffering. It is only the taxpayer who is paying the bill. It is the Big Pharma drug companies, and their bellicose skeptic friends, who do not want to jeopardise their vested interests.