Medical mystery

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I refer to your report (23 October) regarding the spending by Scottish health boards on homeopathic treatment.

The total cost given by NHS Lothian from 2008-9 to 2012-13 is more than £1 million – an average annual spending of more than £224,000. During the recent public consultation regarding the future of the service, NHS Lothian presented figures which constantly changed, and although repeatedly challenged, these were not then re-examined.

From 2003-4 to 2007-8, NHS Lothian’s average annual spending on homeopathy was £94,000. These costs were published in annual audits and the information was freely available and demonstrably accurate.

The service has not been expanded since 2008 and still consists of three part-time clinics and a service level agreement with Greater Glasgow Health Board, which includes referrals to the Glasgow Centre for Integrative Care.

Even allowing for inflation, it is hard to see how these costs could have more than doubled over the past five years. I put this question to an NHS Lothian manager at a recent public meeting and was told that he could not be held responsible for figures published before his tenure.

I welcome the Scottish Conservatives’ request to look at this contentious subject at a national level. Whatever one’s views on homeopathy, there is no point in conducting an inquiry which is prejudiced by being based on inaccurate data.

Margaret Wyllie

Lothian Homeopathic Group

East Saltoun, East Lothian

The solution to the NHS funding homeopathy row is obvious.

They should place a pound coin in a bath of water then forward a bottle of this same water to each health board in Scotland as funding for homeopathy service.

The water would contain a “memory” of the money previously wasted on homeopathy.

Neil Sinclair

Edinburgh

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