There’s one bit of cheery news – an NHS “homeopathic outreach clinic” in Devon is closing because of falling demand.
But why did such a clinic ever exist in the first place? Homeopathy isn’t a thing. The NHS doesn’t have outreach clinics that do bloodletting, does it? Or exorcisms? Or treatment for an excess of black bile?
Patients who use the centre for treatments for conditions including rheumatism and allergies have reacted angrily to the news.
The trust said patients would be offered continued care in Bristol.
Greta Rankin, from Willand, is one of the patients against the closure.
She said: “They will lose all that personalised expertise. The approach of the homeopathic doctors is completely different. If I want to continue I will have to go all the way to Bristol.”
Expertise in what? How can you have expertise in homeopathy? You can’t overdose on homeopathic remedies (unless you take so much that the water kills you). That’s because there’s nothing in them to overdose on, so how can there be expertise? There can’t.
Detractors such as Keir Liddle of Edinburgh Skeptics say homeopathy is “against all the laws of physics and chemistry” because the initial ingredients are so diluted that all that is left is a “memory” in the water.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, believes there should be no further NHS funding for homeopathy, saying it is concerned that scarce resources are being spent on a treatment with “no scientific evidence base to support its use”.
I think the BBC’s Steven Brocklehurst must have misunderstood Keir Liddle. It’s homeopaths who claim there’s a “memory” left in the water; “detractors” think that claim is risible.
He gives Keir the last word though, and that’s clearer.
However, Mr Liddle, chair of the Edinburgh Skeptics, a society which promotes “science, reason and independent thinking”, says homeopathy is “not effective and not efficient, which is at odds with the NHS health care strategy”.
He says: “A substance with nothing in it cannot possibly meet those demands.
“Apart from that, it is unethical for a health care service to prescribe something they know is nothing better than a placebo because that means GPs are put in a position where they end up lying to patients, which is a position which is untenable ethically and morally, in our opinion.
“Where applicable the treatments offered to patients in the health service should be evidence-based. They should be proved to be safe and effective in order that we are not wasting money treating people with things that don’t work.”
We’re talking about “a substance with nothing in it.” Not even a memory.