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Homeopathy should have professional accreditation revoked, NHS leaders urge

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6248 (Published 29 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6248
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Senior NHS leaders have called for the UK’s largest group of registered homeopaths to have its accreditation revoked amid concerns that some practitioners are spreading misinformation about vaccines.

In a letter to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for Health and Social Care, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and national medical director Stephen Powis expressed “serious concerns” about the possible reaccreditation of the Society of Homeopaths. Such a seal of approval gives “a false impression to the public that their treatments are clinically and scientifically established,” the leaders argue.

The letter, sent in response to a consultation, read: “While the Society of Homeopaths may appear to meet some of the PSA’s procedural standards, the basis of their practice remains fundamentally flawed.”

Stevens and Powis said that the matter was particularly pertinent given the spread of misinformation about vaccine safety.

“This is a vital matter at a time when there is a rise of misinformation about vaccines—some of which is apparently promoted by homeopaths—and which poses a significant danger to human health,” they said.

NHS England recommended that GPs should stop providing homeopathy in 20171 and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence takes the position that “homeopathic remedies are not scientifically validated and recommended to treat any health conditions.”

The Society of Homeopaths has been part of the PSA’s accredited voluntary register scheme since 2014. But the PSA, which oversees statutory bodies that regulate UK health professionals, is under growing pressure not to reapprove this status.

Earlier this month, the Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes scientific thinking, revealed that a judicial review it filed challenging the society’s reaccreditation has been granted permission by the High Court.2

The case will argue that the PSA was aware that multiple members of the Society of Homeopaths offered and promoted CEASE therapy—a purported treatment for autism which is targeted at children—when the authority renewed the Society of Homeopaths’ accreditation earlier this year.

The Society of Homeopaths said it would not be commenting at this stage given the ongoing reaccreditation process and the forthcoming judicial review.

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