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Memorandum submitted by David Tredinnick MP, Chairman, Parliamentary Group for Integrated and Complementary Healthcare

 

We spoke briefly at the end of the Science and Technology Committee's Evidence Check on Homeopathy this morning, which I attended in full. I raised a number of concerns with you and am now writing formally as Chairman of the Parliamentary Group for Integrated and Complementary Healthcare (PGICH), formerly Parliamentary Group for Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

 

I discussed this morning's proceedings at a special meeting of the PGICH following our AGM this afternoon with Lord Colwyn and Alan Simpson. Lord Colwyn sat on the original House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that looked at Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2000.

 

I have the following comments.

 

1. Witnesses

 

Only one doctor using homeopathy gave oral evidence, and none are scheduled for Monday. No doctors using homeopathy in a primary care setting have been asked. Dr David Reilly from the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital is regarded as a leading expert on this subject and should have been called. In addition, the Society of Homeopaths, which was discussed both directly and indirectly as the principal organisation representing non-medical homeopaths, should have had the opportunity to put its views forward. I believe that the Committee should have ensured that all the experts in this field were given the opportunity to give oral evidence.

 

2. Evidence from Sense about Science

 

The Managing Director of Sense about Science, an organisation whose actions over a number of years has caused much harm to homeopathy in the UK, was invited to give evidence. The result of this organisation's actions has been the closure of courses, the closure of a very good hospital in Kent and withdrawal of NHS contracts following a letter sent to all PCT Chairmen on headed notepaper purporting to have come from the Department of Health instructing them not to commission homeopathic services. The Minister Gillian Merron said in her response to my adjournment debate on 14th October on Complementary and Alternative Medicine that "The hon. Gentleman raised concerns about a document recommending disinvestment from homeopathy, which was circulated using the NHS logo. I can confirm that our inquiries found no record of the Department having authorised the use of the NHS logo and that those who originated the document were asked not to circulate it any further. They were advised about the use of the logo in future and chief executives of trusts were also informed that the document does not represent Government policy." col. 416

 

Sense about Science is an organisation that does not have anyone on their list of advisors who has any expert knowledge in this field.

 

3. Science's paradigms constantly change

 

Robert Wilson referred to the fact that other dilute preparations were now being recognised. It is quite likely that science will in the near future adjust its views to take account of this change, in which case the evidence presented by Sense about Science will be dated. It is the role of scientists to push back the frontiers of current knowledge, not to curtail it.

 

4. Importance of France, Germany and India

 

It was clear from the evidence put forward that France and Germany are far more advanced in their inclusion of homeopathy within their respective health systems, as usage is significantly more widespread. In addition, in India, for example, homeopathy can be traced back as early as 1810. The Homeopathic hospitals in Calcutta were famous for the treatment of intractable diseases. The success of controlling epidemics like Cholera helped its acceptance in other parts of the country. During the course of its development in India, it has gained substantial governmental patronage and has a vast infrastructure. It is one of the medical systems recognized by the Government of India. In 2002 a National Policy on Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy was formulated and in 2003 there was a Department of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Yoga & Naturopathy and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).

On such an important enquiry for the future of homeopathy in the UK the Committee must consider evidence from abroad where that exists.

 

5. Homeopathy over the counter and prescribed

 

Much of the discussion this morning was about the use and effectiveness of over the counter remedies in Boots and other chemists. This ignored the fact that qualified homeopaths when consulted prescribe a much wider range of homeopathic remedies and in doses well above the 6c and 30c available in chemists. Regularly they would prescribe in 200c or 1m for a constitutional remedy.

 

6. Impact of a negative report

 

The Committee should be aware that there are many within the orthodox medical profession and elsewhere in the UK that believe that homeopathy has no place in healthcare provision. These people make concerted efforts to discredit it and stop it from being commissioned. A negative outcome would give ammunition to those who seek to discredit it, and the Committee therefore has a duty to ensure that this Evidence Check is thorough and independent. I would suspect that detractors will have no hesitation in forwarding any report produced by this Committee to PCT Commissioners urging them to no longer commission services based on the findings. Dr Evan Harris already suggested at the session that the report produced by NHS Kent West regarding its decision to close the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital be circulated by the Department of Health to all other Health Authorities. This is the type of climate that homeopathy faces in the UK.

 

You will be aware that there is a huge difference between there being no evidence of efficacy and there not being sufficient evidence to determine efficacy. The Committee needs to look carefully at this.

 

I urge you to take these points into consideration in your deliberations.

 

 

 

David Tredinnick MP,
Chairman,
Parliamentary Group for Integrated and Complementary Healthcare

November 2009