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Funding for homeopathy treatment “will not be stopped”

27 July 2010

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The government has said it has no plans to stop funding for homeopathy treatment on the NHS.

That is despite a critical report by MPs in February this year which called for an end to the funding, claiming such medicines carrying medical claims on their labels should be banned.

According to the Commons Science and Technology Committee report, there is no evidence the drugs are more effective than a placebo.

But Ann Milton, the health minister, said alternative medicine “has a long tradition” and there were many vocal people both in favour of homeopathy, and against it.

Last month, doctors attending the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference said homeopathic remedies should be banned on the NHS and taken off pharmacy shelves where they are sold as medicines.

Ms Milton said the government welcomed the MPs report but “remain of the view that the local National Health Service and clinicians are best placed to make decisions on what treatment is appropriate for their patients”.

These decisions should take account of safety, and clinical and cost effectiveness, she said, adding that the government remained committed to providing good-quality information on the treatments.

Homeopathy, which is a 200-year-old system, has been funded on the NHS since its inception in 1948. It differs from herbal medicine in that it relies on substances being diluted many times, something the MPs said could not be scientifically proved to work.

There are four homeopathic hospitals in the UK, in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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