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NHS England welcomes court victory on homeopathy prescribing ban

The High Court has rejected a legal challenge by the British Homeopathic Association to overturn plans for the NHS to no longer routinely fund homeopathy.

NHS England welcomed the court victory, which comes after it published guidance to stop prescriptions for 18 low clinical priority treatments such as some dietary supplements, herbal treatments and homeopathy.

Chief executive Simon Stevens called the legal challenge ‘costly and spurious’, stating that homeopathy is a ‘misuse of scarce NHS funds’.

This follows recent research found that over 2,700 homeopathy prescriptions were issued by GP practices between December 2016 and May 2017, costing a total of £36,532.

Alongside stopping homeopathy, NHS England has also clamped down on over-the-counter prescriptions.

Earlier this year it published a list of 35 minor, short-term conditions for which over the counter medicines should not routinely be prescribed, claiming that this could save around £100m a year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens responded to the court ruling, and said: ‘There is no robust evidence to support homeopathy which is at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds.

‘So we strongly welcome the High Court’s clear cut decision to kick out this costly and spurious legal challenge.’

Last month researchers revealed that GPs are writing one million fewer prescriptions for low-priority treatments but that price hikes have led to a rise in the overall spending.

BMA GP committee prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green welcomed the news via Twitter.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Not sure this will make much difference to NHS budgets - a drop in the ocean - much like homeopathy in fact ;-)

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  • Most NHS homeopathic prescriptions cost less over the counter than the routine NHS charge. So if a patient is benefitting or thinks they are benefitting from homeopathy they will simply pay for it themselves. UNLESS of course they are young, old, disabled or for any reason do not pay for NHS medication. The main effect of this humane decision by NHS ENGLAND will be to discriminate against just these people.

    It's interesting to note that in Switzerland they had a referendum on exactly this issue and the people voted overwhelmingly to forced all insurance companies (equivalent to the NHS) to pay for homeopathic consultations and medications IF they are prescribed by a medical doctor.

    Seems the Swiss are a bit more democratic on this than us I guess.

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  • Dear Liberal Doctor

    Patients also benefit from massage, pedicures and holidays. We do not provide these on the NHS.

    Well done to the high court for making the right decision.

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  • AlanAlmond

    All this bother to save the NHS £36,000. I wonder how much the lawyers charged on this one. It went to the high court, I bet it was considerably more than £36,000.

    Anxiety releaving ampules of water on the NHS ? - absolutely outrageous. Marvellous they’ve put a stop to this for sure. It’s not the rather small sum they’ve saved that matters, it was the principle.....wasn’t it?


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  • NHSE Guidance on low value medicines is ....guidance- CCG's are composed of the GPs in the CCG- which asks permission from GPs for Medicine Management teams to do work in their practices - looks like the GP has final sanction in the consultation with their patient who is the final arbiter and has to consent to treatment offered. So you can still ethically prescribe eg co-proxamol.

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