Homeopathy wastes taxes

I READ William Banyard’s ­letter (24 November) where he takes to task those criticising homeopathy. I do not have a problem with people using homeopathic water therapy so long as it is paid for with their own disposable income.

In July 2010, NHS UK put out a report stating that it subsidised some 25,000 homeopathic items that are prescribed each year at a cost to the taxpayer of 
£3 million to £4 million annually. I don’t consider that the sort of money for spurious medical quackery to be worth “peanuts”. ­Besides, whose peanuts are they?

In April 2013, the retiring chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir John Beddington, stated that the provision of homeopathic services on the NHS was mad because there is no underpinning of a scientific basis. There is a mountain of scientific evidence that illustrates the non-effect of homeo­pathic treatments. There is no corresponding reputable evidence in favour of homeopathy.

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What Mr Banyard describes is the well known placebo effect of a patient wanting something to be efficacious when in all probable fact, the ailment is a self-limiting one anyway.

I am appalled that in today’s world an unproven 200-year-old non-treatment is seen as beneficial. It does mean to me that our schools don’t teach enough applied science and chemistry. Once anyone understands chemistry, it is impossible to take Mr Banyard’s comments and homeopathy seriously. Scientific illiteracy is a continuing problem for all of us when charlatans can sell snake oil for financial gain.

Veronica Denyer, Glenrothes

UNLIKE William Banyard I am proud that NHS Lothian has decided to cease funding homeopathy. NHS Lothian has a limited budget and should never have wasted even 1p on the magic thinking which is homeopathy. No homeopathic treatment has clinical support beyond a placebo effect whilst many clinical treatments with proven efficacy are denied to NHS patients owing to budgetary restrictions.

In this era of austerity NHS Lothian has to be congratulated for concentrating funding to treatments with proven clinical effectiveness and not magic thinking.

Neil Sinclair, Edinburgh