The battle to abolish taxpayer-funded homeopathy is being undermined by GPs and other NHS doctors who believe the alternative therapies work, campaigners have warned.
The health service has announced a ban on commissioning the treatments, yet in London and the South West family doctors continue to prescribe them, and some NHS hospitals deliver them, costing up to £6 million a year.
Resistance to official policy is being bolstered by a network of homoeopathic doctors within the health service, as well as a cultural attachment to homeopathy among many patients, according to the Good Thinking Society.
They are hoping a public consultation in Bristol, which closes on Tuesday, about the future funding of alternative therapies will mark the beginning of the end of homeopathic treatments in the NHS.
The health service in Liverpool and surrounding areas abandoned homeopathy in 2016, leaving just two significant areas of the country where the NHS funds the practice.
Opponents of the so-called pseudoscience believe the results of the consultation concerning Bristol and parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire will herald its final abolition in the South West, but they predict stamping it out in the capital will be harder.
While obtaining a referral for homeopathic treatment, such as for conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome or allergies, is difficult and decided on a case-by-case basis, some hospital doctors are allegedly providing taxpayer-funded treatments even when these have not been commissioned by GPs.
Michael Marshall, Project Director at the Good Thinking Society, said audits had shown the Royal Hospital of Integrated Medicine, an NHS facility on Great Ormond Street, was routinely using money from local GP groups on homeopathic remedies.
“There is no good evidence that homeopathy works,” he said.
“The NHS should not be funding treatments which have been proven not to work as every penny that is spent could be betters spent elsewhere.”
Last month Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, described homeopathy as a ‘placebo at best’, and a ‘misuse of scarce NHS funds.
A second consultation is currently taking place in London, led by Enfield CCG, to gain support for abandoning all funding for homeopathy.
However, it is expected that both the London and Bristol engagement exercises will prompt ‘disproportionately strong’ support from patients in favour of alternative treatments.
“We know that homeopathy supporters in the area are very active and we are certain they will be responding to the survey to urge the CCGs to keep funding homeopathy,” said Mr Marshall.
At the time of publication the Royal Hospital of Integrated Medicine had not responded.
Source: Henry Bodkin, Daily Telegraph