Removing homeopathy from the NHS, therefore, will mean depriving many patients of the only treatment which has helped. This was the case, for example, when Brent teaching Primary Care Trust stopped referring patients to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (RLHH):
“We were referred to the RLHH, and homeopathy made a dramatic, positive effect on our health.
To not have the treatment is a real crisis for people.”
While some people will be able to resolve this crisis by paying for homeopathic treatment privately, many working people will not have this option. As a result, the doctors’ attack on homeopathy is actually an attack on the right of working people to have access to the treatment which benefits them. Also, many of the patients from Brent have regained access to their treatment through individual appeals, which seriously undermines the argument that the treatment was ineffective.
It is already the case that the overwhelming majority of those using homeopathy pay for their treatment while continuing to pay for the NHS. 10% of people in the UK use homeopathy, including many who work for the NHS, but the NHS homeopathic hospitals only treat some 55,000 patients per year.
Furthermore, according to NHS West Kent, before it closed the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital in 2009 “Almost all referrals for homeopathy [were] at the request of the patient”. It is clear that there is a significant divergence of opinion about homeopathy between patients and doctors.
In 2007 I helped establish the charity Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century (H:MC21) in order to defend homeopathy and the right to receive it on the NHS. H:MC21 has rigorously exposed the propagandist nature of the attacks on homeopathy, and it has united patients and homeopaths, inside and outside the NHS. We do not believe that a monopoly in medicine is beneficial to anyone but shareholders of pharmaceutical companies, and so we urge people to join us, to write to their local MP in protest at the BMA vote, and to “Defend Choice in Medicine”.