News

CCG axes funding for homeopathy

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5448 (Published 06 October 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5448
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. BMJ

An NHS clinical commissioning group in England is to stop funding homeopathy after a consultation showed widespread public support for the move.

Wirral CCG decided to decommission homeopathy and an alternative cancer treatment called Iscador after 95% of 1291 local people it surveyed said that funding for the service should stop, with just 4% wanting it to continue.1

Twenty of 22 doctors who responded to a survey of local GPs also supported the termination of the service. The GPs cited the treatments’ ineffectiveness and the lack of evidence of any long term benefits of homeopathy to patients.

Between 40 and 50 patients use the service each year, which was projected to cost £12 704 (€14 400; $16 200) in 2016-17.

In June neighbouring Liverpool CCG decided to close its homeopathy service after a legal challenge by the campaigning charity the Good Thinking Society.2

Wirral was the last clinical commissioning group in the north of England to fund homeopathy, and the society said that only CCGs in Bristol and London and some health boards in Scotland were still commissioning it.3 In 2015 a Scottish judge rejected a patient’s legal challenge to Lothian Health Board’s decision to stop funding homeopathy.4

Sue Wells, medical director of Wirral CCG, said that the decision was taken mainly on the grounds of lack of evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy or Iscador. “We recognise that during the consultation strong views were expressed on both sides of the argument, but ultimately a significant majority of the public and clinicians who responded favoured the option to cease funding for this service,” she said.

Michael Marshall, a Merseyside resident and project director of the Good Thinking Society, said, “We wholeheartedly support the decision by NHS Wirral CCG to cease funding for homeopathy. It is hugely encouraging to see the CCG make a clear statement that homeopathy has no place on the NHS.

“The evidence is unequivocal in showing that homeopathic treatments are no more effective than placebo, and the public consultation shows that the people of the Wirral want to follow the evidence and to preserve limited NHS funds for treatments that are shown to actually work.

“We feel that in taking into account the ineffectiveness of homeopathy, as well as the view of the respondents to the survey, the CCG has made the right choice today.

“With the end to homeopathy funding in Wirral, the CCG joins the overwhelming majority of health bodies in the country in recognising that homeopathy is not a valid use of limited NHS resources. The basic expectation of patients is that the treatments they are offered on the NHS actually work. Homeopathy has clearly failed to meet this expectation.”

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