NHS Bristol ends funding for homeopathy, ending all homeopathy commissioning in England

Today, CCGs in the Bristol area became the latest and final NHS England CCGs to end the commissioning of homeopathic remedies, marking a significant victory in our long-running campaign to challenge NHS spending on the pseudoscientific treatment.

Michael Marshall, Project Director of the Good Thinking Society, said: “We are very pleased to see the Bristol CCGs take this decision to cease funding for homeopathy – every other CCG across the country has made it clear that homeopathic remedies are no better than placebo and such there is simply no place for homeopathy on the NHS.

“With the end to homeopathy funding in Bristol, the region joins NHS bodies across the rest the country in recognising that homeopathy is not a valid use of limited NHS resources. There is now no CCG in England where homeopathic pills or consultations can be routinely funded with NHS money – instead, funding can be directed towards treatments that have been shown to actually work.”

This latest decision in Bristol marks the culmination of four years’ work by the charity Good Thinking. Back in 2014, we started to uncover how much money the UK was spending on homeopathy, and which CCGs were funding the treatment. Our research showed that NHS bodies across England were spending in excess of £3m on homeopathy in 2013/14. In the South West alone, spending on homeopathy provision was more than £240k per year – now, four years on, that figure should be effectively nil.

To be precise, although these South West CCGs made the decision to end their homeopathy contract, it will still be possible in theory to make new referrals for patients in exceptional circumstances, after an Individual Funding Request (IFR) for the treatment. As an IFR involves a panel of GPs reviewing the case and deciding that homeopathy is likely to be the most effective course of treatment, we expect the number of successful IFRs to be zero.

Our NHS homeopathy campaign has taken many years, as we have had to analyse NHS policies, write to CCGs and health bodies, make Freedom of Information requests, liaise with media outlets, work with local groups, and more. If you feel, as we do, that this work has been worthwhile, you can sign up to make a one-off or monthly donation to Good Thinking, and help us continue our work in Scotland, where this is still significant spending on homeopathy.