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Wednesday 5 April 2017

BBC News. Another gratuitous attack on Homeopathy.

The BBC says that it follows its editorial guidelines on news reporting, and that these include balancefairness and impartiality. However, they routinely fail to do so when they deal with health issues, when they take every opportunity to promote conventional medical, and attack homeopathy.

There has been yet another gratuitous attack on Homeopathy. It took place during the BBC 'Today' programme on 31st March 2017, when either Mishal Husain or Sarah Montague interviewed the boss of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

In the 20 minute interview important issues were discussed, all of them related to the deepening crisis in the NHS, and specifically plans to stop GP's prescribing certain treatments. It was a far-reaching discussion that dealt with matters such as waiting lists for non-urgent treatment, the financial and staff pressures on the drug-dominated NHS, and several other topical health issues. Yet Husain (or Montagu) could not resist having a go at homeopathy! 

Stevens was asked whether the intention of the new measures was to save money. Stevens said it was, that he wanted to get the "maximum benefit from money being invested". He said that the NHS was "the most efficient of any national health service in industrial world", but that there were still 'inefficiencies' and 'waste'.

So what were these inefficiencies within the NHS? Stevens mentioned patients being "passed between pillar and post, and ending up at the wrong place". However, Husain (or Montagu) knew where this waste was, and questioned Stevens specifically on it. This is a transcript of their discussion at this point.

               “You mentioned earlier ban on prescribing certain medicines. Is it true that the NHS is still spending £4m on homeopathic medicines?

               "I don’t know if £4 million is the right number, but this is a classic example of what we want to see less of!"

               "Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davis, describes them as “Rubbish”. If the NHS is spending any money on homeopathic medicine is that a good use of money?"

               "No, they are placebo, at best".

               "So it would be absurd if anyone is prescribing homeopathic medicine?"

               "In my opinion, yes, I agree with the Chief Medical Officer".

There was no need to introduce homeopathy at this point, but it was an opportunity to attack homeopathy too good to miss! Note that it was introduced by the BBC, not by Stevens. Of course, Stevens, being a member of the conventional medical establishment, only agreed with Michal (or Montagu). Homeopathy was rubbish! Who spoke in defence of homeopathy? No-one!

So was this an example of the BBC's editorial principles in action? Wast this 'balance'? Normally, discussing any other issue, the BBC might have said that as there was no-one to speak for homeopathy, that it was not able to defend itself, so it was unfair to speak about the issue. The BBC often does this when a speaker attacks another person or organisation. It is part of their 'fairness' agenda. Yet there is little fairness within the BBC when it comes to homeopathy, as it proves to us, time and time again.

Moreover, on this occasion it was not a member of the conventional medical establishment 'rubbishing' homeopathy - it was raised directly by a BBC employee with a clear agenda!

So will the BBC offer homeopathy the right to reply? No, they have never done so, at least since 2005 (or thereabouts).

As usual, if the conventional medical establishment believes that homeopathy is 'rubbish' they will be given every opportunity to say so by the BBC. The contrary arguments (that there are over 500 scientific studies supporting homeopathy, that it is the second biggest medical therapy in the world, that patients for over 200 years have found it to be a safe and effective medical therapy, that it continues to treat conditions that conventional medicine has failed to do, et al) is never allowed to reach the ears, or eyes of BBC licence payer.

In matters relating to health, the BBC has a belief structure that is allowed to over-ride its editorial guidelines. This allows them to do many thing, other than attacking homeopathy and other alternative therapies. Thus,
  • the BBC never covers the serious harm caused to patients by pharmaceutical drugs.
  • the BBC never covers the dishonesty and downright fraudulence of the pharmaceutical industry.
Mainstream news organisations does have a problem with criticising the pharmaceutical industry. In the USA it has recently been estimated some 70% of advertising revenues come from drug advertising. I have no idea whether this is correct, but the dependence of news organisations on drug company advertising is certainly significant. Even a cursory examination of the mainstream newspapers, and commercial radio and television stations in Britain, will indicate clearly that they pay form and in large measure control the media.

Yet the BBC has no such excuse for the bias and partiality it shows on health issues. After all, it is funded by the licence fee that everyone in Britain pays. It does not allow advertising, and so does not depend on the powerful and influential pharmaceutical industry for financial viability. There was no reason for Michal (or Montague) to gratuitously attack homeopathy, any more than there is any reason for a 'public service broadcaster' to favour one medical therapy over and above another. Yet the BBC does this, and does so constantly.
  • The BBC always, meekly and slavishly, publicises pharmaceutical company's press releases about new 'wonder' drugs, and new 'miracle' treatments. It would never report on government, or a single party policy. without allowing the opposition to comment. But in health  matters there is no such balance. The BBC never asks why it is, with so many medical breakthroughs, that the NHS is in constant crisis!
  • The BBC never highlights the regular and consistent harm done to patients by pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. If any other industry was killing thousands of patients every year, or was causing harm with their products, the situation would not be so consistently ignored. The BBC never links iatrogenic disease with the inability of the NHS to cope with patient need, we are all just getting older!
  • The BBC refuses to give any alternative medical therapy an opportunity to talk about the treatments they offer patients, but instead, regularly attacks them, without giving them any right of reply. When a member of the government is interviewed, it is usually balanced by an interview with a member of the opposition. Such impartiality is never afforded to anyone who opposes the conventional medical establishment.
  • The BBC always assumes, whenever there is a medical issue (a disease epidemic, a problem with a drug or vaccine), that they will get the truth from experts from the conventional medical establishment. That is, they rely on the very people who have caused the issue in the first place! In other matters, the BBC would attempt to balance the discussion by obtaining a variety of different viewpoints and opinions about a problem.
Conventional medicine is failing, and failing badly. The NHS is in crisis, yet again, not because of a lack of funding, or poor management, or an ageing population. It is failing because the drugs and vaccines that monopolise NHS treatment are failing. The pharmaceutical industry is not making us better, regardless of how much money the NHS spends on drugs and vaccines, or how the service is structured.

It is certainly not failing because the NHS is spending £4 million (of a £120 billion budget) on homeopathy!
  • It is failing because drugs and vaccines are harming patients, and the media is ignoring this very simple, and easily demonstrated fact.
  • It is failing because patients believe what they are being told about conventional medicine by the media, not least by the BBC. Patients are demanding more of the drugs and vaccines that are making them sicker.
That the BBC, and the rest of the mainstream media, is choosing to ignore what is happening in health constitutes not just a failure, but a dereliction of duty. They are failing their listeners, viewers and readers by telling them that conventional medicine is working, and will work if only there was enough money. They are misinforming the public by gratuitously calling homeopathy "rubbish". They are not engaging in a debate that will enable patients to make an informed choice about the medical treatment available to them.

Worse, it is leading to the many thousands of users of alternative medical therapies to ask this vital question.

     "If the media, and the BBC in particular, are not telling the truth about health, what else are they not telling the truth about?"

It is an issue of credibility. And ultimately, when conventional medicine fails, when antibiotics fail totally, when doctors are no longer able to prescribe painkillers, when it is no longer possible to deny that vaccines are causing autism, dementia and other brain illnesses, the BBC and the mainstream media generally, will have to account for their actions, or perhaps their failure to act, and their failure to inform the public.