That’s It for Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital

Reported today in Pulse,

Campaigners look to have lost their fight to save a leading homeopathic hospital, in a landmark case that accelerates the treatment’s deepening crisis over NHS funding.
West Kent PCT decided there was ‘not enough evidence of clinical effectiveness’ to justify funding routine homeopathic consultations and treatments at the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital, a decision which may force its closure.

Amazingly, most patients and GP’s did not want to see funding for homeopathy,

Campaigners against the cuts in West Kent applied for a judicial review last year . Although it was later dropped it forced the PCT to launch its own independent review. But this found 66% of patients and 80% of GPs did not support funding homeopathic services at the hospital, justifying the PCT decision to stop referrals for homeopathy.

It won’t be long before the rest follow.

Dr Tim Robinson, a GP who provides a local homeopathic service in Dorset, said this was a ‘test case’ which would send ripples around the country. ‘The worry is that other PCTs may follow West Kent’s lead. The monies that are being spent on homeopathy compared with the NHS budget are small and are falling.’

Let’s be clear. The Quackometer does not want to see homeopathy banned. It just thinks that spending public money on witchcraft cannot be justified in a modern social healthcare system. GPs may well still prescribe homeopathic remedies if they like and I do not have too much of a problem with this, but there ought to be a franker debate about the ethics involved in lying to patients about the pills. At the end of the day, people can still pop into Boots the Chemist if they so wish and pick up some sugar pills. Or even, if they are feeling brave, consult a lay homeopath. But the NHS does not have to pretend anymore that homeopathy works. A good decision.

24 comments for “That’s It for Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital

  1. gimpyblog
    July 29, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Some good news indeed. However, I still sense there is considerable unresolved conflict between GPs who prescribe homeopathy under strict GMC regulations and ignorant quacks who are accountable only to loosely defined and poorly enforced ethical codes. I for one would like to see statements from the ARH and SoH condemning homeoprophylaxis in the strong terms that Peter Fisher, the Queens own quack and medical doctor, has done.

  2. Le Canard Noir
    July 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Absolutely. If the Quackometer was to have anything as bold as a manifesto regarding homeopathy, it would be to see public funding for homeopathic services cut in favour of more progressive patient support services and to see lay homeopaths practice within the limits of what is reliably known about homeopathy. The former is achievable, the latter not without some sort of outside intervention – e.g. prosecution. This is because lay homeopaths are True Believers and incapable of insight into what they do.

  3. Mojo
    July 29, 2008 at 11:59 am

    gimpyblog wrote, “I for one would like to see statements from the ARH and SoH condemning homeoprophylaxis in the strong terms that Peter Fisher, the Queens own quack and medical doctor, has done.”

    I’d like to see any of them speaking out against the over-the-counter (and therefore non-individualised) homeopathic nostrums on sale in Boots.

  4. Dr* T
    July 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    It”l be interesting to see how it’s spun in the homeo press.

    With the Pulse report that showing that GP prescriptions had just about halved in the last year, The British Homeopathic Assoc spokesperson said “We do know that there is no evidence to show that GPs are shunning homeopathy, nor is there evidence to show patients are not seeking homeopathy due to adverse press coverage” (BBC source)

    Homeopaths in evidence-denial shock.

    John Cook from BHA said “It is a sad day for patient choice. The PCT decided patients will no longer have the right to treatment that works”.

    Really? I would have thought that option was still open to them.

    Obviously, the Society of Homeopaths have yet to say anything!

  5. jdc325
    July 29, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    “…spending public money on witchcraft cannot be justified in a modern social healthcare system”
    Totally agree. What people spend their own money on is (pretty much) their business. When tax revenue is involved it’s a different matter.

    Dr* T’s quote from the British Homeopathic Association spokesperson is hilarious. To claim there is no evidence to show that GPs are shunning homeopathy… in rebuttal to the evidence that GPs are shunning homeopathy is just fantastic. And absolutely typical of homeopaths.

  6. gimpyblog
    July 29, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    “Obviously, the Society of Homeopaths have yet to say anything!”

    Yes, the SoH have been remarkably quiet compared to the fulminating nonsense coming from the ARH and CMA recently. Perhaps they prefer to follow the old saying ‘better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt’ or maybe they hope by not commenting on the future of the profession then those nasty critics will go away.

  7. Le Canard Noir
    July 29, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    The Society of Homeopaths do appear to have changed tactics. After last year, when every time they opened their mouths they stuck their foot in it, they must think that it is best to remain quiet.

    Their must be some desperation now. The daft and utterly innefectibe HMC21 campaign has postponed its giant march on parliament. After bragging they will get 250,000 signatures they struggled to scrape together 10,000. And I am sure that 10,000 includes a few cats and dogs, cartoon characters and Serbian war criminals.

  8. Nhoj Tsimehc
    July 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Well if 66% of patients are against homeopathy on the NHS and we have the usual 10-15% ‘dont know’. Then that must mean 20% want homeopathy on the NHS. This 20% must have all heard now many times the placebo routine. Anyway 20% want homeopathy and this Government goes on about patient choice.
    Well this 20% are not getting their ‘placebo’ choice.
    Doesnt sound fair to me.

  9. gimpyblog
    July 29, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    hmc21? Are they even still going? They were a Big Quacka funded front organisation weren’t they? You know when you’re in trouble when the only people who can summon the enthusiasm to support you are those who are financially dependent on you.

    John Chemist, grow up. The NHS has limited resources, it is only right that those resources are spent on treatments of proven benefit. Let patients choose between treatments of chosen benefit but not treatments of proven no-benefit.

  10. Nhoj Tsimehc
    July 29, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    It is good of you to try to help the proletariate Gimpy.However some of the people out there want to think for themselves. You could all shout Avogadro outside of the Homeopathic Pharmacies- In fact you could shout Avocado- It would not matter to most of the punters.
    Just like shouting ‘Darwin’ outside a church would make no difference.
    If you get off on reducing the NHS homeopathic budget from the present homeopathic proportions of 0.0?something% to nil then fine.
    20% of the population deserve at least 0.0? something%. Nothing too unfair about that?

  11. Garulon
    July 30, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    “20% of the population deserve at least 0.0? something%. Nothing too unfair about that?”

    It’s unfair to the 80% who want their money spent on something that actually works rather than an expensive vial of water, isn’t it?

  12. Ben Bawden
    July 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Patient choice doesn’t mean that they are allowed to choose any treatment they want. Could a patient with a headache demand trepanning as a treatment?

    The NHS, being publicly funded, should be obliged to provide those treatments that can be shown to work. Homeopathy fails this.

    Oh, and they still get the placebo effect with conventional treatments PLUS the actual effect on top.

  13. Nhoj Tsimehc
    July 30, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I noticed the Gov email petition for NHS funding for homeopathy to be stopped has got 844 names.
    Save the London Homeopathic hospital got 7439 names. Still there are 3 weeks to go for you to spin that around.
    To show you where the publics priority really lies the petition for the Red arrows at the 2012 Olympics has got 454000 names.
    A petition to stop the proposed move of the Type archive has got 810 names and closes in Jan. This cause is comparable to yours in terms of its popularity.
    Your campaign is punching well above its weight.

  14. Le Canard Noir
    July 30, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Chemist John – the provision of homeopathy on the NHS is not a beauty or popularity contest. It is about doing what is right. And it is not right to have witchcraft-based hospitals in the 21st Century.

  15. Nhoj Tsimehc
    July 30, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    You are entiled to your opinion Black Duck but I and I think most people would say that homeopathy isnt witchcraft. However please waddle your way to a website that I am sure you know well.
    http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com
    where you may see that the microscope needs to focus more on the other 99.995% of medicnes. Among all the wonder drugs there are loads of unproven ones in that lot.
    PJonline is also interesting at the moment – another piece on how popular homeopathy is with patients. Check out the online petition as well- 42% of Pharmacists must be witches-Maybe loads will be selling pumpkins this Oct.

  16. Anonymous
    July 31, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Chemist John -

    “If you get off on reducing the NHS homeopathic budget from the present homeopathic proportions of 0.0?something% to nil then fine.”

    Surely, reducing the proportion of the NHS budget spent on homeopathy to nil will maximise its effect. What are you complaining about?

  17. Nhoj Tsimehc
    July 31, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Suomynona-Sounds at first like a fair comment- Consider the following though.
    Most of the 750 patients at this Tunbridge Wells homeopathic clinic(not hospital) would be known as TEETH patients- Tried everything else try homeopathy.
    Many would have been referred as they cant afford private homeopathic treatment.
    How many of these 750 will now go back on the rounds again with chronic non life threatening conditions having more treatments and drugs that obviously didnt help in the first place. I confidently predict that this will cost the NHS far more than 200K.

  18. Nash
    August 1, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    The £200k is just for the treatments. Not the cost of the building and staff.

    Spending 200k on water is a waste of money.

    Glad to see you admit that all Homeopathy is suitable for is as a dumping ground for hypochondriacs. But even hypochondriacs deserve better.

  19. Anonymous
    June 17, 2009 at 9:28 am

    i think some of these comments are really narrow minded.
    have you tried homeopathic remedies?
    it is far from withcraft
    i think that more hospitals and gp's should give the option.
    and for you to just shun the idea without acknowledging it properly is ridiculous.

  20. Anonymous
    July 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Not all GPs are fans of pseudoscience and those that profess to be scientists should stand up for themselves more often. I do my utmost to protect patients from Quacks, reserving special contempt for Chiropractors and Homoeopaths.

    The modern world is awash with bullshit, and at least we can try and keep patients safe from it when they are at their most vulnerable.

    DM – Scientist and GP, Reading, Berkshire.

  21. Anonymous
    January 3, 2010 at 12:45 am

    So how many other homeopathic hospitals are still being funded – there is one in Bristol and the Royal London one… any others? This certainly does seem like a waste of taxpayers' money

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