The information for this pilot study of the provision of homeopathy by Primary Care Trusts was gathered by a number of supporters, and processed by William Alderson LLSCH RSHom.
Sample Size and Selection
26 PCT’s (7%) have been contacted of 373 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), Local Health Boards and Local Health & Social Care Groups in the UK.
The PCTs contacted were selected by individuals acting on their own initiative using a template letter available from the H:MC21 websites. One of these PCTs was contacted by more than one person, and the data from the two contacts has been combined. Two of these PCTs were contacted by the same person more than once, during which time the policy of one of them had changed. The answers based on the initial policy position (providing homeopathy) have not been included, and only the current policy position (not providing homeopathy) is used in this report.
14 of the PCTs (53.8%) were contacted by a single individual. These were all in northwest England, and the distribution of their policies between provision and lack of provision of homeopathy was broadly similar to the overall average, given the small numbers involved:
- 3 (21.4%) providing homeopathy (total 15.4%);
- 10 (71.4%) not providing homeopathy (total 80.8%);
- 1 (7.1%) unclear whether providing homeopathy or not (total 3.8%).
PCTs were asked whether or not they provide homeopathy. If the do provide homeopathy, they were asked to answer an additional set of four questions (A to D). If they do not provide homeopathy, they were asked an additional set of six questions (1 to 6). In fact, all but 6 PCTs provided information about access to treatment, and so this information has been incorporated into the results for Question A.
Of the 26 PCTs contacted:
- 4 PCTs (15.4%) stated that they provide homeopathy;
- 21 (80.8%) do not routinely provide homeopathy;
- 1 (3.8%) is unclear, in that the respondent stated that the PCT does not provide homeopathy, but also stated that homeopathy may be provided by GPs themselves.
However the availability of homeopathy is greater than this suggests. GPs can prescribe homeopathic treatment in an additional 3 PCTs (11.5%), so prescribing or referral occurs in a total of 7 PCTs (26.9%).
This pilot study was based on responses from 7% of PCTs, and it has clearly exposed weaknesses in the approach to decision-making about the provision of homeopathy in the NHS. It is alarming that over 76% of those PCTs which do not provide homeopathy failed to provide information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. It is even more alarming that the information provided was on occasions contradictory, an acknowledgement of ignorance, or accompanied by unsupported negative opinions about homeopathy.
Despite the inclusion of homeopathy as a treatment in the founding charter of the NHS, and despite the promises of access to this therapy made at the time of the foundation of the NHS, it would appear that there is a widespread failure to provide homeopathy in the NHS. This failure appears to be attributable to prejudice rather than to informed decision-making. If this is truly the case, then many PCT Boards are failing to meet their obligations as trustees of the public interest by allowing their decisions to be influenced by vested interests.
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