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Up to 30 CCGs may face legal threat for funding homeopathy

Exclusive Some thirty CCGs may face legal action from scientists if they do not review their spend on homeopathy, Pulse can reveal.

The Good Thinking Society has already forced NHS Liverpool CCG into reviewing a £30,000 annual spend on homeopathy but said it has now written to a further 20-30 CCGs.

Together, the CCGs are thought to be allocating an estimated two-five million pounds towards the practice – which leading doctors have dismissed as ‘witchcraft’ – each year.

The small charity, which describes itself as ‘pro science’, has already filed for judicial review against NHS Liverpool CCG, which has since agreed to review its funding via a public consultation set to launch next month.

The Good Thinking Society’s project director Michael Marshall said every penny spent on homeopathy is ‘a kick in the teeth’ to anyone forced to wait for NHS treatment, with the letters sent to CCGs around England outlining both the lack of evidence for homeopathy and what has happened in the Liverpool case.

He said: ‘We want to give the CCGs the opportunity to start listening to those studies, to make sensible decisions about their funding policies.’

‘At a time when NHS budgets are under scrutiny, it seems like every penny that is spent on homeopathy is a kick in the teeth to anybody who’s waiting for their operation, or has had any other treatment delayed or cancelled due to funding issues.

‘This is money that could be spent on initiatives that are actually proven to be effective.’

A spokesperson for Liverpool CCG said: ‘Liverpool CCG currently resources a small homeopathy contract to the value of £30,000 per year that benefits a small number of patients in the city who choose to access NHS homeopathy care and treatment services.

‘The CCG has agreed with the Good Thinking Society to carry out further engagement with patients and the general public to inform our future commissioning intentions for this service.’

BMA has previously called for homeopathy to be ‘banned’ from the NHS after branding it ‘witchcraft’, however the Department of Health maintains two registers for registration of homeopathic remedies. The national rules scheme run by MHRA was last reviewed in 2012 after being criticised in a House of Commons report, but the review concluded the register should remain.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘All treatments on the NHS must be clinically proven with clear and identifiable benefits to patients, especially at a time when NHS finances are under real pressure. The BMA does not believe that homeopathy passes this test and as a result it should not be funded by the NHS.’