Simon Stevens

End Scottish NHS spending on homeopathy

August 2, 2017

Humanist Society Scotland has called on the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, to review how NHS Boards are funding Homeopathy in Scotland.

However in a reply, the Scottish Government states that they “recognise that some Complementary and Alternative Medicines, including Homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions.”

This follows action by NHS England who announced, as part of a recent consultation, that they will end the practice of funding Homeopathy. If this changes goes ahead in England, Scotland will be the only part of the UK where the NHS continues to fund the controversial alternative to regular treatments.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive NHS England

Announcing the recent consulted changes to policy in England the NHS England’s Chief Executive, Simon Stephens, described Homeopathy as “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.

Funding for Homeopathy in the NHS in Scotland has reduced in recent years as figures gathered by the Good Thinking Society have shown. Their research however identifies six of the fourteen Scottish health boards spending £1.7m in the last year figures were available 2015/2016.

In a letter (available below) to the Scottish Government the Humanist Society Scotland call for an end to Homeopathy funding through the NHS. The Society States that “the NHS should not be funding to Homeopathy as it is not an effective or responsible spend of resources which could be better spent in other areas of healthcare.”

Letter from Gordon MacRae of Humanist Society Scotland to Shona Robison MSP
Letter from HSS to the Scottish Government

The text of the letter from Gordon MacRae, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland, to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, reads:

“You will no doubt be aware of the recent announcements by NHS England that funding for Homeopathic remedies and other ‘treatments’ that are neither clinically effective nor cost effective will be withdrawn. This move will leave Scotland as the only part of the UK to be providing funding for homeopathy through the NHS.

You will no doubt be aware of the figures available in the public domain through research carried out by the Good Thinking Society. This shows six Scottish NHS boards spent a combined £1.7m to £1.8m on Homeopathy in 2015/16, the other six did not provide funding for Homeopathy.

Humanist Society Scotland, amongst others, believe that Scotland’s NHS should not provide funding to Homeopathy as it is not an effective or responsible spend of resources which could be better spent in other areas of healthcare.

I would like to ask for confirmation of what Scottish Ministers’ views are on the funding of such treatments in Scotland’s NHS and if you will respond to the recent NHS England consultation with a similar review of such funding in Scotland’s NHS.”

Letter from Scottish Government policy Officer John Capiron in reply to Humanist Society Scotland
Reply from the Scottish Government, giving commitment to allowing the funding Homeopathy by Health Boards

The text of the letter from John Capiron, Scottish Government Policy Officer, in response to MacRae’s letter reads:

Thank you for your email of 31 July 2017 to Ms Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport regarding funding of homeopathic remedies in Scotland. As this falls within my policy area, I have been asked to reply on this occasion.

The Scottish Government recognises that some Complementary and Alternative Medicines, including Homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions. It is for individual NHS Boards to decide which therapies they make available based on national and local priorities and the needs of their resident populations, in line with national guidance: http://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/dl/DL(2016)06.pdf

We expect Boards to ensure that people receive the appropriate care that meets the totality of their needs and that this care is person-centred, safe and effective. It is the responsibility of clinicians, in consultation with their patients, to discuss and agree the best treatment options based on individual clinical need.

I hope this information helps.”

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