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Friday, 8 March 2013

How to get Homeopathy on the NHS

The British National Health Service (NHS) was started in 1948. Its architect was Anauran Bevan, who was a user and supporter of Homeopathy. Since then, Homeopathy has always been available through the NHS, particularly via the Homeopathic Hospitals in places like London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. Some GP's practice homeopathy, alongside conventional medicine, within the NHS. A list of these practitioners can be found here. And in some areas, the local Primary Care Trust (PCT) or Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are willing to refer patients to local homeopaths when they request homeopathic treatment.

The NHS is a health service for everyone, free at the point of need. We all pay for it through taxes and our National Insurance payments. So have you ever wondered why it is difficult to get homeopathic treatment on the NHS. Indeed, have you ever wondered why, if you go to your GP, or your local hospital, you will only be given access to conventional medicine?

During the last 60+ years the NHS has gradually been taken over and dominated by the conventional medical establishment. The NHS is now, virtually, a monopoly. What this means is that most doctors, most GP surgeries, most PCTs or CCGs, and the Department of Health are not really interested in any patient request to have homeopathic, rather than conventional treatment.

So the current situation is this. Whilst patients are still entitled to Homeopathy, the NHS is routinely refusing such requests in most parts of the country, and the situation is getting worse, as more PCTs and CCGs are making it part of their policy to refuse to allow patients access to Homeopathy.

This is despite the current government's policy of 'Patient Choice', or to use a phrase taken from the White Paper - "No decision about me without me". All the main political parties support the right to Patient Choice.

So always bear in mind that Homeopathy is not an entitlement, and that a local refusal to provide Homeopathy is contrary to your rights. In what other area of life can you think of where you have actually paid for something, but are not allowed to have what you want?

So what can the growing number of people who positively want Homeopathy for their treatment (and do not want to risk the dangers of ConMed) do about this situation?

Well, we need to fight for our rights. We need to insist that Health Freedom is a fundamental human right. We need to remind the NHS that we are entitled to treatment, and to demand that they give us access to the treatment of our choice.

Yet this is not an easy or straightforward task. It is possible only if we, as patients, are prepared to face up to a powerful ConMed bureaucracy, committed as it is to maintaining the monopoly of conventional, drug-based medicine within the NHS. Funding for homeopathic treatment is usually denied. 

The result is that no one usually bothers to ask for it! This means the NHS has no idea what the demand for homeopathy is, and how it is growing. For these reasons, the NHS Trust Association has recently encouraged all its registered therapists (such as myself) to ask all their patients to apply for NHS funding. This is what they are saying:

          "If enough of your patients go to their NHS GP’s or specialists and ask to be referred to you, this is bound to raise the level of awareness amongst GP’s that your patients are gaining benefit from your treatment. Whether doctors present believe in this treatment, or not, if their patients are gaining benefit, surely a doctor has to pay attention. The Association therefore suggests that members should encourage their private patients………"

So it is important for you to remember that you do have a right, enshrined in the NHS Act, to homeopathic treatment. It is your health, and if homeopathy is your treatment of choice, you should ask for it.

What to do if you want Homeopathy through the NHS

1. Your GP
The first thing to do is to see your GP. It is up to your GP to make a diagnosis of your illness, and at your request, refer you for homeopathic treatment. Most GP’s will still refuse to support homeopathy (they are ConMed doctors, and most know little about Homeopathy), although recent surveys show that an increasing number support homeopathy on the NHS. But argue your case, strongly, and be firm. 

You can use these arguments, where appropriate.
  • Say that you feel homoeopathic treatment is safer, especially for children, older people, or for pregnant women.
  • Say that you feel homeopathic treatment is more effective, and give examples from your own experience of homeopathy’s ability to improve health, and cure illness.
  • State any objections or worries you have about taking conventional treatment/drugs, especially if you have been told you have to take them on a long-term basis.
  • If you have been ill for some time, and conventional treatment has not helped your condition significantly, you should ask to try homeopathy as an alternative.
  • The cost of homeopathic treatment is probably considerably less expensive than any ConMed treatment offered to you.
  • If you have been told that you require non-urgent or elective surgery, you can ask that you try homeopathy in order to avoid the need for this.
  • If you have illness symptoms, but there is no conventional diagnosis, or if tests suggest that you are not ill, and this happens regularly, you can say that you wish to be treated by homeopathy instead.
2. A letter in support – the cost of homeopathy
Find a local Homeopath, and ask them to write a letter to your GP in support of your application for Homeopathic treatment. You can take this to your doctor, and (s)he can forward it to the local PCT, alongside the referral. Ideally, the letter will outline the cost of homeopathic treatment for the condition that has been diagnosed.

3. Following a GP Refusal
If your GP says that homeopathy is not appropriate, this usually means that s)he does not believe in it. He/she should be prepared to discuss the decision with you. If you cannot change his/her mind, you then have several options.
  1. You can request a second opinion, usually from another doctor at the practice.
  2. You can complain formally (the practise manager should be able to advise you about the surgery’s complaints procedure) or look at this website for information.
  3. You can register with another GP, or even with another surgery.
  4. You can speak to the Patient and Liaison Co-ordinator at the Primary Care Trust.
Otherwise your GP will write to the PCT, asking for funding.

At this point, you might like to join this Facebook group, devoted to Patient Choice. It will put you in touch with a group of like-minded people, all of them interested in getting Homeopathy on the NHS. Click here to access, and join in the work of the group.

3. The local PCT or CCG
When your GP makes a referral for NHS funding, it is considered by your local PCT or CCG. Although they do not have a good record for funding homeopathy, you can ask the Patient Advice and Liaison Co-ordinator to support your application. You are usually told that ‘there is no proof that homeopathy works’, and/or that there are already too many demands on their resources. 

Such arguments need to be tested. The NHS funds many expensive treatments that have limited value, and they are often dangerous and/or ineffective. Homeopathic treatment is invariably cheaper and more effective. But most important, the way you wish to be treated should be paramount.

At this stage, it might be useful to contact your local MP, and discuss the situation with them. Almost invariably he/she will have been elected on a manifesto that supports 'Patient Choice'. Remind the MP that regardless of his own personal views on heath and its treatment, you are the patient, you have made your choice, the NHS is refusing you your preferred treatment, and ask him to support you.

4. Outcome at PCT or CCG Level
  • If funding is agreed by the PCT or CCG, you will benefit from homeopathy - without charge. The NHS will benefit both by providing you with the therapy of your choice, and by saving considerable money doing so. And Homeopathy will have the opportunity to demonstrate the phenomenal power of homeopathy in successfully treating illness and disease.
  • If funding is not agreed, at least you will have indicated your support for homeopathy, and helped to demonstrate that public demand for homeopathy is increasing.
  • You might want to write to the Department of Health at this time, informing them that you are being denied your right to 'Patient Choice'.

5. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
If you wish, it is possible to take the matter one stage further, and make a formal complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Again, information about how this is done can be found at this website.

This can be an exhausting process, especially for someone who is not well. I know, because I have done it! It took me a year to do. And eventually I got what I wanted, was treated at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, very successfully.

But the three alternatives are worse. Accept conventional medical treatment, with all its dangers, and its lack of long-term effectiveness. Or accept that you are ill, that you will continue to be ill, and accept that the NHS will not treat you. Or pay for your medical treatment a second time, by consulting a Homeopathy privately.

The argument is moving in our direction, towards Health Freedom. All political parties now, and an increasing number of MP’s, support policies that favour ‘Patient Choice’ in health provision. We now need to insure that ‘Patient Choice’ includes homeopathy – as it is a safe, effective, and cost-effective treatment.

Good luck.