NHS Homeopathy ends in London

Last week, the BBC covered the latest development in our campaign to stop NHS homeopathy, revealing that the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine will no longer be allowed to offer homeopathy consultations to NHS patients, effectively ending NHS support for homeopathy in the capital:

NHS homeopathy ending in London

A major centre of homeopathy will no longer be able to spend NHS money on the controversial practice.

The Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine – formerly the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital – will stop providing NHS-funded homeopathic remedies in April.  Read more >>

As it transpires, the hospital should not have been giving NHS patients homeopathy, as the treatment was already on the list of treatments that would not be supported by NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in London – as was reported in the coverage of our campaign in The Times:

Curbs on hospital linked to Queen over rule breach

The hospital where the Queen’s homeopath works has been banned from offering homeopathy to NHS patients for disobeying health service policy.

An audit found that the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine had been wrongly charging the alternative treatment to taxpayers.  Read More >>

The decision to end NHS homeopathy at the facility is no surprise to us – we have been tracking spending on homeopathy in the area since 2014, when we were told by 17 London CCGs that they had no way of knowing how much of their funding was being spent on homeopathy (though we subsequently came to estimate the spend to be around £3m per year).

During the last four years, we discovered that each of the CCGs in the city had a policy which prevented funding from being spent on homeopathy, yet we were aware that the RLHIM was certainly treating NHS patients with homeopathy. To try to get to the bottom of things, we wrote to CCGs in London encouraging them to investigate whether their policies were being breached at the RLHIM.

Partly as a result of our encouragement, in April 2017 NHS Camden CCG undertook an audit of 100 of their patients at the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine. The audit found significant non-compliance with their policy on complementary medicine, with 41 out of the 41 homeopathy treatments tracked by the audit breaching the policy.

As a result of the audit, the CCG reiterated that the RLHIM was not to treat any NHS patients with homeopathy – bringing to an end the homeopathy service at the facility, and across London as a whole.

The end of homeopathy in London is a major milestone in our campaign to stop NHS homeopathy, and has taken many months and years of our work to understand NHS policies, write to CCGs and health bodies, make Freedom of Information requests, liaise with media outlets 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 keep our work going. 

With the end of homeopathy in London, following our previous successes in the North West of England and our ongoing project to have the Department of Health add homeopathy to the NHS Blacklist, only the Bristol and Glasgow regions continue to spend NHS resources on these ineffective treatments. Our attention, and our campaign, turns to those cities next.

We like to thank all the people who gave us help and support in our campaign so far – including Bindmans LLP, Alan Henness from the Nightingale Collaboration, Prof Edzard Ernst, Skeptics in the Pub groups around the country, and the many supporters of evidence-based medicine who follow our work. With your support, we can bring NHS wastage on homeopathy to a close, and help make sure that limited resources are spent more effectively.