Commonsense has finally broken out with the news that Bristol health authorities have no plans to continue to fund alternative medicine on the NHS. Or to put it another way, public money will no longer be squandered on quack therapies for which there is no evidence that they have any effect whatsoever.
It also recommended that homeopathy was not offered on the NHS. Obviously.
Good Thinking Society project director Michael Marshall goes much further: “It is a significant and encouraging step to see that the Bristol Homeopathy Hospital will cease offering sick patients homeopathic ‘treatments’, given that it is beyond doubt that homeopathy is not effective for any condition.
“To continue to provide homeopathic remedies in spite of the overwhelming evidence against their use would be indefensible, not least with the finite resources at the disposal of the NHS.”
I am no expert so I rely on those who are experts, such as skilled scientists, who recommend treatments which are evidence based and are proven to work. That, to the disappointment of quacks and shamen (and Prince Charles), is what we know as conventional medicine.
I read to my horror that £32,324 was spent on homeopathic “treatments” on 211 adults and 52 children since 2014. In terms of the NHS, this is not a great deal of money, but what were these people being told? That “alternative medicine” would cure them of their ailments where conventional medicine couldn’t, in which case on what basis were they told?
Perhaps the poor patients could have been offered aromatherapy, as Billy Connolly memorably said, “Smell yourself better.” After all, there is no more evidence that this works than any other quack medicine, other than by way of a placebo effect. Maybe we should try the placebo with all manner of treatments. Don’t bother to set a broken leg, allow someone to breathe in some tea tree oil. That will do the trick just as well as a plaster cast.
Homeopathy was developed by German physician Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann in the 1800s (it says here), the central tenet being that various substances can become more effective when they are diluted and shaken. This is a bit like saying that your Ribena will always taste better if you dilute it with so much water that it ultimately tastes like…well…water. Or that lager will get you drunk quicker if you water it down. I exaggerate here, but only just.
I suppose we cannot ban these “alternative therapies” as long as we know that they cause people no harm. However, it is also fair to point out that in all probability they don’t do any good either and that’s the main reason why public money should not be wasted on it.