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Homeopathy prescribing set to be blacklisted under NHS England plans

NHS England has said it is going to 'formally request' that the Government ban GPs from prescribing homeopathy.

In 2017, NHS England published guidance to stop prescriptions for 18 low clinical priority treatments including homeopathy given the lack of 'clear or robust evidence'.

In addition to existing guidelines, NHS England has now said it will 'formally' request the Department of Heath and Social Care (DHSC) to blacklist homeopathy to make sure available funding is better used.

If the DHSC go along with NHS England's recommendation, then homeopathy would no longer legally be prescribed in primary care settings. 

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'The NHS has issued guidance making it clear to GPs that homeopathy should not be prescribed, and to give further legal force to this we will now be formally requesting that the Department of Health blacklist it so that funds cannot be wasted in this way.'

A DH spokesperson said: 'We expect GPs to prescribe treatments for the clinical benefit of their patients. In line with the clinical evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy, NHS England issued guidance to prescribers on the use of various items of low clinical value, which has resulted in a decline of homeopathic prescribing in primary care of 52%.

'We will consider NHS England’s request and respond in due course but we would expect doctors to be following these guidelines already.'

GPC clinical policy lead Dr Andrew Green previously called on the Government to ban over-the-counter or low-value medicines, rather than having guidance alone, as this would be ‘wholly inadequate’ and could put GPs at risk of breaching their contracts.

There is already a blacklist of drugs that GPs may not prescribe, which appears under Schedule 1 of the 2004 GMS contract.

The list, which includes drugs that experts agreed had no clinical or therapeutic advantage over other cheaper drugs, was first set up in 1985 and no new items have been added since 2004.

Last year, the High Court rejected a legal challenge brought in by the British Homeopathic Association to overturn NHS England plans to no longer routinely fund homeopathy.

NHS England welcomed the court victory, with chief executive Simon Stevens calling the legal challenge ‘costly and spurious’ and stating that homeopathy is a ‘misuse of scarce NHS funds’.

This came after 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

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Readers' comments (26)

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHS_Centre_for_Integrative_Care,_Glasgow

    Miniscule you say?

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  • So Chris, back to £266 million being spent on drugs with side effects and withdrawal issues, proven to be equivalent to placebo, in the increasingly common conditions of mild and moderate depression-reportedly increasing- how could that dosh be better directed or should the NHS be spending even more on these placebos every year?

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  • @Do good. The NHS HAS been spending more on placebos every yr. I contend that the state spending taxpayers' money is far less effective than individuals deciding for themselves in a free market. Now there are some minimal requirements of the state, security, judiciary, maybe even emergency healthcare provision, education for those below the poverty line, stringent base welfare. But clearly in some sectors, our state is too big. I would give that money, and much more back to its original owners, the taxpayer. And reduce the size/power/spending of the state.

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  • Chris- you now sound like a homeopathic doctor- the Faculty of Homeopathy has been running courses for people like us for nearly 70 years- even an FRCGP wrote a concise handbook- Dr Jack- have a peek- only £3.29 on e-bay- wouldn't even break the NHS bank, and would be v. interesting to hear your critique once YOU HAVE READ IT, please?
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/Homeopathy-in-General-Practice-by-R-A-F-Jack-Paperback-2001/91649459

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  • What BS. How do I sound like I'm peddling sterile water on taxpayer funds? How about you read Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jordan Peterson, Christopher Hitchens, then let's see your critique? In case you haven't realised, the NHS bank IS broken!

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  • What brilliant stuff indeed.....

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