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|Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 4:10 am Post subject: DOCTORS CONDEMN HOMEOPATHY AS WITCHCRAFT AND DEMAND BAN
|DOCTORS CONDEMN HOMEOPATHY AS WITCHCRAFT AND DEMAND BAN
Doctors have denounced homeopathy as witchcraft which should not be supported by the taxpayer and the National Health Service.
Hundreds of members at the British Medical Association’s annual conference of junior doctors have passed a motion attacking the alternative medicine and other remedies they claim have no scientific basis to support them.
The BMA has previously expressed scepticism about homeopathy, arguing that the rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, should examine the available evidence and make a definitive ruling about the use of the remedies in the NHS.
Junior doctors have now gone one step further with a vote last week overwhelmingly supporting a blanket ban and an end to all placements that teach homeopathic principles.
Dr Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in England, told the conference: “Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street [in London] there is a homeopathic hospital paid for by the NHS”.
Gordon Lehany, chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in Scotland, said it was wrong that some junior doctors were spending part of their training rotations in homeopathic hospitals, learning principles that had no place in science.
He told the conference in London: “At a time, when the NHS is struggling for cash, we should be focusing on treatments that have proven benefit. If people wish to pay for homeopathy that’s their choice, but it shouldn’t be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works.”
The motion was supported by BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum, although it will only become official policy of the whole organisation if it is agreed by their full conference next month.
Homeopathy, an alternative medicine practice devised in the 18th century by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is based on a theory that substances that cause symptoms in a healthy person can, when vastly diluted, cure the same problems in a sick person.
Latest figures show 54,000 patients are treated each year at four NHS homeopathic hospitals in Glasgow, London, Bristol and Liverpool, at an estimated cost of £4 million. A fifth hospital in Tunbridge Wells in Kent was forced to close last year when local NHS funders stopped paying for treatments.
In February a report by MPs said public money should no longer be spent on the alternative medicine. The Commons Science and Technology Committee said the idea behind homeopathy, of treating a patient with highly diluted substances to trigger the body’s natural system of healing, was implausible.
In evidence to the committee, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said there was no possible reason why such treatments, marketed by an industry worth £40m in this country, could be effective scientifically.
Advocates of homeopathy include Dr Jan de Vries, who in February called on the Scottish Government to safeguard the future of Scotland’s only homeopathic hospital in Glasgow. De Vries said removing funds from the institution would take away the public’s right to make their own choice on healthcare.
Crystal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), said attempts to stop the NHS funding alternative medicines ignored the views of the public, especially patients with chronic conditions.
“Thousands of people, who are not helped by conventional care, rely on homeopathy in the UK annually, and millions worldwide,” she said. “That this group of junior doctors is willing to vilify something they haven’t even broached to understand, I think speaks more about the doctors themselves.
“It says more about them living in some kind of dark age. Homeopathy is not witchcraft, it has been around for 200 years. Millions of people depend on it as their first level of medication, because they don’t have conventional medicines available.”
[link to www.heraldscotland.com]
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