Dec 19 2012

Devon and homeopathy calling it quits

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.

It makes no sense for the NHS to pay for homeopathy.

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.



Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    all that is left is a “memory” in the water.

    Does water forget about all the poo that’s been dumped in it?

  2. 2
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    If the poo was properly succussinated and potentiated, no.

  3. 3
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Yes, but it recalls the urine…

  4. 4
    Bernard Hurley

    Now I’m never going to get rid of my black bile. Although I suppose I could take the risk of self medicating with a glass of tap water.

  5. 5

    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. “

    And that’s the secret to the homeopathic con. The practitioner gains the trust of the mark patient by actually listening while the patient rants about the telly, the grandkids not visiting, the price of bread, and any and all things. The patient feels better having vented and gives full credit to the shot of water the insurance company paid for.

  6. 6

    the shot of water the insurance company paid for

    If this is the NHS, that’s the shot of water the TAXPAYER paid for.

  7. 7
    AJ Milne

    … or treatment for an excess of black bile?

    I think I might have that… Does it ever manifest as a sort of flaring of nostrils and muttering under one’s breath thing particularly noticeable in pharmacy aisles full of homeopathic woo?

    … seriously, I’d boycott the pharmacies that sell that crap. Except that now they all seem to.

    (/It’s probably all planned, come to think of it. They drive my blood pressure up this way, and then I need blood pressure medication. Win win for them, anyway.)

  8. 8

    The water remembers? I thought it was Gallo wine that did that…..

  9. 9
    Bernard Hurley

    No, Gallo wine forgets.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson


  11. 11
    Keir Liddle

    I regret to point out that I was not misquoted rather my quote was truncated.

    IIRC I said “all that’s left is the memory of water” and then went on to say that this was risible. The language might have been a bit flowery for them tbh.

  12. 12
    Ophelia Benson

    Heh. Pretty radically truncated.

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