Why does the NHS spend money on homeopathy?

The NHS says there's "no good-quality evidence" that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition, yet it funds it. Why and to what extent?

Homeopathy is an extremely controversial issue - so it's no surprise it came top of our poll of readers when we asked what they would like us to investigate. The Department of Health doesn't hold any figures for England - nor do the other devolved nations - so instead I've had to go to a variety of different sources to get a picture of what is happening.

There are now only two NHS centres offering homeopathic treatments - in London and Glasgow. Another two former ones - in Bristol and Liverpool - have moved into the private sector, but still see NHS patients (although it was announced this week the last health body funding the Liverpool one was going to stop sending patients).

However, the way money flows around the health service makes it hard to work out exactly how much is spent across these sites.

For example, patients receiving fertility treatment or being given support for pain or anxiety may get referred to these centres, but are not necessarily recorded as receiving homeopathic care. Nonetheless, the Good Thinking Society, which has been campaigning for the NHS to stop funding homeopathy, estimates spending is in the region of £5m a year.

Source - BBC