Homeopathy treatments flounder as NHS trusts cancel contracts

NHS trusts are dropping homeopathic treatments following controversy over whether they work, it has been revealed today.

A study found that only 37 per cent of 132 primary care trusts still had contracts for homeopathic services. More than a quarter of trusts had stopped or reduced funding for the therapies over the past two years.

Homeopathy is based on diluting substances - that could otherwise be poisonous - in water or alcohol. Some scientists argue homeopathic solutions are diluted so many times that they are unlikely to contain any active ingredients at all. There has also been controversy surrounding regulation of who can give the treatments.

Today an investigation by the GP newspaper Pulse said homeopathic clinics in the UK "are in crisis". It said the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital was fighting for survival after eight trusts cancelled contracts over the past year and a further six reduced referrals. An investigation by the newspaper found that referrals to the hospital were down by a fifth in a year.

Dr Tim Robinson, a GP who provides a local homeopathic service in Dorset, told Pulse that patients denied the treatments on the NHS may take risks by consulting non-medical homeopathic practitioners.

He said: "They will have to pay someone and go to a non-doctor and there are potential risks with that."

Richard Hoey, deputy editor of Pulse, said: "Homeopathy is a highly controversial treatment with all sorts of doubts over its evidence base, but it is popular with patients and has traditionally always had a place in general practice. If the NHS is now going to stop providing homeopathy, that needs to be a decision taken in the full glare of public debate, and not made in the committee rooms of cash-strapped trusts."

Source - Daily Mail