Homeopathy allies pledge to fight axe

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CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight a decision to axe ­homeopathy on the NHS.

Members of the NHS Lothian board unanimously agreed the controversial treatment, which costs £240,000 per year but has not been proven to work by any study, will no longer be publicly funded.

The British Homeopathic Association (BHA), which claimed the controversial 
alternative medicine had been the victim of a “hate campaign”, today refused to rule out a challenge in the courts.

The organisation believes the removal of clinics, used by around 500 people a year in the region, constitutes a “major service change” and is therefore a decision for the Scottish Government, rather than NHS Lothian.

However, other groups expressed delight that the service had been cut, calling the decision a victory for “evidence over superstition”, and said the BHA should “shut up”.

The decision to end funding had been largely based on a public consultation which found that almost three-quarters of Lothian residents did not think homeopathy should be free on the health service.

But after the ruling yesterday, the BHA branded the consultation, which involved more than 3700 people “farcical”.

The group’s chairman, John Cook, said: “[The] consultation failed to listen to actual patient feedback in the form of general correspondence and feedback at public meetings, instead concentrating only on the flawed online survey which was hijacked by people outside of Lothian who campaign against homeopathy.”

Health board sources claimed the Scottish Health Council has advised that the removal of homeopathy would not constitute a “major service change” and that NHS Lothian was therefore entitled to take the decision.

Keir Hardie, president of Edinburgh Skeptics, backed the NHS Lothian board and ridiculed the prospect of a legal challenge. He said: “The ­evidence has spoken, the service users have spoken and frankly it is probably time for the BHA to shut up.”

daniel.sanderson@edinburghnews.com