Skeptic News: Homeopaths claim NHS Lothian consultation flawed

From: Edinburgh Evening News

images (5)In a remarkably ironic twist to the NHS Lothians recent consultation on homeopathy  Cristal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association has claimed the consultation had been “fundamentally flawed”.

Her full quote to the Edinburgh Evening News is provided below (click on the link to see the 21st floors Keir Liddle providing Edinburgh Skeptics position):

“The report relies heavily on the results of the online questionnaire which the Lothian consultation team publicly acknowledged was open to abuse. This is just one of many serious flaws in the consultation process which the BHA, doctors and patient groups alerted NHS Lothian about.

Critically, NHS Lothian from the outset has failed to offer any alternative to the homeopathy service, if it is discontinued, as it is legally required to do when 
considering a major change in service provision.

At a price of 22p per person in Lothian for treating often chronically ill patients, it will be difficult to find a cheaper alternative.”

Sumner appears to be rallying against the use of public opinion or anecdote to determine whether homeopathy should continue to be provided on the NHS. This is highly ironic given that supporters of homeopathy endlessly point to it’s supposed popularity with the public to justify it remaining tax payer funded.

It seems that homeopathys don’t simply like to cherry pick poor quality scientific evidence in risible attempts to claim homeopathy is in anyway efficacious but they also cherry pick exactly which segments of public opinion we should listen to.  If the results of the consultation had shown that the majority of people believed homeopathy should be funded by NHS Lothian you can bet the homeopaths would have no problem what-so-ever using it’s “popularity” as a reason it’s provision shouldn’t be scrapped.

Though we have to agree with Sumner in one regard – an online consultation is not how NHS service provision should be determined. Evidence should guide those decisions. So while we welcome the results of the consultation we think that the proper process would have been to assess the evidence, find homeopathy wanting, and cease NHS funding. We do wonder if the only reason this went to public consultation is related to the Dept. Of Healths desire to avoid angry letters from homeopaths?

We have to say that we find it remarkable that Sumner complains about the survey being open to abuse.  Particularly given that this is addressed within the consultation document itself noting that response from outwith Lothian had been recieved from both anti and pro homeopathy individuals. However over 69% of respondents to the consultation live within the NHS Lothian health board area. It seems a bit much for homeopaths to complain about a survey being open to abuse simply because there now exists organisations and individuals who are motivated to campaign for evidence based medicine and against nonsense.

Perhaps this is related to the odd habit of homeopaths and proponents of alternative medicine to declare that “Self declared skeptics” have no business commenting on local politics? Particularly when they hold views at odds with their own. Why would they think this? Why would they be suspicious that the skeptical voice is know making itself heard?

Well for too long proponents of alternative health have had it their own way. For too long they have been able to influence policy and funding decisions simply because skeptics and critics were not well organised and did not speak up.

What Edinburgh Skeptics have shown us is that there is a vast reservoir of opposition to funding alternative treatments devoid of evidence out there.Sometimes all they need to speak up is a little push.

A little push that an ever increasing number of online and offline skepticial individuals and organisations are now willing to give.

UPDATE: We can exclusively reveal the identity of one of the organisations attempting to “abuse” the system by seeking responses from far and wide. The British Homeopathic association.


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