The BHA Seeks a Judicial Review Against the NHS Consultation

The NHS is slowly dismantling our healthcare choices without proper and lawful consultation.

Two days ago, the British Homeopathic Association (BHA) commenced its legal challenge, asking for a judicial review of the NHS England consultation, Items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care.

We have, from the outset, believed this consultation to be flawed, on a number of levels. Not only was the timing of the consultation suspect, homeopathy experts and practitioners were not consulted for the drafting of the proposal itself. But, most of all, it is obvious that this consultation never represented a genuine attempt to engage consultees – which is strongly suggestive of a pre-determined decision, one not to be overturned regardless of the outcome.

We invite you to visit the British Homeopathic Association’s website to read the full reasoning behind the drive for this judicial review, but also to help support part of the legal costs they will face to get this judicial review.

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Keep the pressure on NHS England

Thank you to everyone who responded to the NHS England consultation and got involved in the BHA’s campaign: Save Homeopathic and Herbal Medicines.

As you know, the BHA has from the outset questioned the legality of the NHS England consultation which closed on the 21st October. In July, NHS England announced it was consulting on removing 18 treatments from primary care prescribing, including homeopathy. The consultation ended in October and a report will be considered by the NHS England board on 30 November.

We all need to maintain the pressure during this critical time, to make decision-makers aware of the issues and inconsistencies which plague the consultation and its process.

MPs need to be aware that NHS England is basing its decisions on a fundamentally flawed report which is not peer-reviewed evidence. Please write to your MP to make them aware of the issues and your concerns. To help create a letter we have provided some helpful information. Read through the points in our template letter, and please write in your own style to help ensure it is opened and read.

Over 20,000 people have signed the parliamentary petition—Stop NHS England from removing herbal and homeopathic medicines—letting the government know that homeopathy should not have been part of the consultation. Keep sharing so we can have a stronger voice in representing patients and the public.

We, as well as the BHA, believe that NHS England failed to meet its statutory duty in the way it conducted the consultation and will share important news, soon, about critical work being done to defend homeopathy and make NHS England accountable to the public it is supposed to serve.

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The Government responds to our petition

Save Homeopathy and Herbal Medicines on the NHS

This morning, the Government responded to our petition to prevent NHS England abolishing GP prescriptions of herbal and homeopathic medicines. We now have over 14,600 signatures, so an official response was expected.

In essence, the government hasn’t replied to the evidence brought forward in favour of homeopathic and other complementary treatments. Their response blames the rising costs of all prescriptions, citing the need to cut medicines considered of low clinical value. Despite all evidence provided proving the benefits of homeopathy, the statement concludes that:

“… We are not aware of any evidence that demonstrates the therapeutic effectiveness of homeopathic products.”

Department of Health, Government responded

Please, we urge you to read about the clear and proven benefits of homeopathy, and our answers to the most common questions and challenges. We realise that homeopathy is controversial, and that very strong and seemingly incontrovertible statements are made about it. The Homeopathy Research Institute’s frequently asked questions, is a compilation of the most common accusations, along with answers according to available scientific evidence.

Then, please take a look at the Homeopathy Evidence Check rebuttal of the questionable and biased manner a previous evidence check on homeopathy was carried out, by the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee, in 2010.

 

What can you do?

In the new light cast by this report, and with the window on the consultation closing fast (on the 21st October 2017), it is imperative that you act, quickly.

Complete the NHS consultation document, while the consultation is still open. You only have until the 21st, then it’s too late! Yes, it is a long and complex form, but you don’t have to fill it all in. We’re here to help, and have prepared a handy guide to help you complete the most important sections.

Please support our motion by signing our petition to parliament. While there, you can read the government’s response in full.


If you haven’t written to your MP yet, please do so now. By writing now, you can mention the government’s lukewarm response. Even if you have already written, consider this your chance to write again and let them know how you feel about today’s response. Tell them what you think of its generic nature and flawed argument, and how it disregards all presented evidence.

You can quickly find your local MP and their address using the UK Parliament’s search facility. If you feel intimidated about writing to an MP, and don’t know what to say or how to cover all the facts, don’t worry, we’ve prepared a template letter as a handy starting point. Please re-word it in your own way, referring to the latest response, so that the letter is not discarded or ignored.


It may seem obvious, but please help spread the word. Tell everyone you think will be interested, by word of mouth, mail, social media or any means you can think of.

And, of course, please contact us with any questions you may have. Thank you.

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Notes to help you in completing the NHS England Consultation

< As part of our Save Homeopathy and Herbal medicines campaign, we know from feedback that the consultation response portal on NHS England’s website is not very helpful and is actually obstructive in easily providing feedback. Many questions are optional, meaning you can skip to the questions you want to answer or feel confident in responding to.

Once on the website (NHS England: Items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care):

Page 1: You will be asked for your name and email address, you can choose to remain anonymous but if you feel comfortable it is best to be a named individual or organisation.

Page 2: Is an equalities and health inequalities question—if you feel certain groups of people are at risk or disadvantaged from the cuts proposed, please specify or just move on to the next question.

Page 3: Is a question about evidence for potential impact on health inequalities. Again, answer if you feel you’d like to or skip to next question.

Page 4: Asks about the proposed process for identification of items for removal. If you can provide views please do so or skip to the next question.

Page 5: Select ‘Yes’ in response to “Do you want to provide views on the proposals for CCG commissioning guidance?”, and select homeopathy from the list. You have the opportunity later to add comments on other treatments if you wish.

Page 6: You’re now asked, in two questions, if you agree that there should be no new homeopathy prescriptions, and if you agree that those currently receiving homeopathy should be transferred to a different treatment and the prescription ended.

You can select:
o Agree
o Neither disagree or agree
o Disagree
o Unsure

By selecting disagree you are letting NHS England know you would like to keep homeopathy in the NHS.

You also have the option to provide a further comment on your answer, or on the availability of homeopathy on prescription in general. Remember, some of your comments may be anonymised and published as part of the consultation outcome, so please make sure any comments are respectful and relevant to the consultation.

If you’d like to leave comments on another treatment, you can select it from the list below such a herbal treatments; otherwise, select “I would not like to provide further feedback on any more of these medicines”.

The rest of the questions are self-explanatory and optional.

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Write to Your MP about the NHS consultation on Homeopathy and Herbal Medicines

Save homeopathy and herbal medicine

NHS England is currently in a consultation process, with the clear aim of abolishing prescriptions of Homeopathic and Herbal Medicines. You are not powerless, there are a several things you can do, including writing to your constituency’s MP.

Make sure your MP knows how you feel on this issue, the threat to Homeopathic and Herbal medicines is so great. To make this process easy and painless for you, we’ve prepared a letter for you to print, sign and send. All you need to do is insert your MP’s name, and the date. As you may not know your MP and their address, we’re also providing a link to find your MP and their parliamentary and constituency address.

Resources

  1. Find your MP and their contact information
  2. NHS England Consultation letter to MPs
  3. Read the facts about how Homeopathy and Herbal medicine are a positive force when prescribed by the NHS
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Save Homeopathy & Herbal Medicine

NHS England 2017 consultation on CAM

Complete the consultation document Sign the petition Find your local MP; write to them Help spread the word: share this information with your friends Find out how CAM reduces NHS prescribing costs Read about how the majority of patients who've tried Homeopathy reported positive health changes Read about how a small group of activists opposed to CAM on the NHS is campaigning to have CAM prescriptions removed Read how Homeopathy is a safe and natural choice Find out how services, once gone from the NHS, disappear for good Read more to learn that Homeopathy on the NHS works and is effective Homeopathy HUB
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Combat health cuts in Bristol

NHS Bristol CCG is currently conducting a consultation on whether to stop funding for a number of services including homeopathy. Doctors who deliver these services were not formally notified that the consultation was taking place, and we, the homeopathic community, have only just been made aware of it. Consequently, there are only a few days to respond as the closing date is 15th August.

How to respond

The points to make in your response are listed below, and you can help defend NHS homeopathy in Bristol by taking part in the consultation which can be found here (https://www.bristolccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/nhs-service-proposals/decommissioning-homeopathy/).

  • NHS Bristol CCG has failed to adequately publicise its proposals and give patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders sufficient time to raise objections.
  • By launching its consultation during the school summer holidays when many people are away, it appears the CCG is deliberately trying to avoid engaging with patients before cutting these services.
  • To support its proposal for decommissioning the homeopathy service the CCG cites the 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence check into homeopathy, implying that it was approved by government. It was not! Only four MPs from the committee voted on this report: three in favour of its conclusions with one abstention. Two of the MPs who supported the report didn’t even attend the committee sessions to hear the evidence. An Early Day Motion criticising the report was signed by 70 MPs unhappy at the way the committee conducted its review of the evidence. No decision about the future provision of healthcare services should be based on a report the government did not endorse.
  • Contrary to what the CCG says, there is evidence supporting the effectiveness of homeopathy. For instance, a study of clinical outcomes at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital from November 1997 to October 2003 involving 6,500 individual patients found that more than 70% of these patients recorded clinical improvement following homeopathic treatment. Also, 8,500 patients attending GP surgeries in France were treated with homeopathy. Results showed:
    • Patients with upper respiratory tract infections treated with homeopathy responded as well those treated with conventional medicine but used fewer drugs.
    • Patients with musculoskeletal disorders required half the amount of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and fewer side-effects when treated with homeopathy.
    • Patients with sleep, anxiety or depression were less likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs when treated by a homeopathic physician.
  • Homeopathic medicines produce fewer side-effects than conventional drugs and are generally less expensive. Far from being a drain on valuable NHS resources homeopathy can save the health service money.
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NHS England Consultation on Homeopathic Medicines

NHS consultation on homeopathic medicine

Many patients and supporters have seen the media reports that the NHS is halting routine prescription of homeopathic medicines.  This is not true.

On Friday 21st July a consultation was opened by NHS England. This consultation aims to produce commissioning guidelines to reduce the 1.1 billion prescription items dispensed in primary care in 2016, at a cost of £9.2billion. Rightly, the NHS is concerned to ensure the greatest value for the money it spends in the face of rising costs and finite resources. The guidelines under consultation cover a number of drugs and items on prescription of which homeopathic medicines make up less than a 1% of expenditure.

As the BHA’s Chief Executive responded in the Times:

Patients will be prescribed more expensive conventional drugs in place of homeopathy, which defeats the object of the exercise. The NHS also claims it wants to reduce the amount of prescription drugs patients take, then stops offering complementary therapies which can help achieve this.

Cristal Sumner, Chief Executive of the BHA as quoted by The Times, 22 July 2017

The final policy decision on this spend has NOT been agreed and will not be finalised until the end of the consultation period on 21 October 2017. Once guidance is agreed Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) wanting to implement these guidelines would need to perform their own consultations.

The consultation seeks the views of all CCGs, general practitioners and most importantly the public and patients.  The consultation document can be viewed and responded to by clicking on this link.

As a national charity representing patients of homeopathy, the BHA will be making the strongest response to the consultation. We also encourage everyone to respond to the consultation. We will be providing additional information to assist in your responses in the coming week.

Any enquiries arising should be directed to John Burry at jburry@britishhomeopathic.org.

Act now and give NHS England your views on this consultation.

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Charity Commission Consultation ends 19th May!

The Charity Commission (CC) is currently conducting a public consultation on whether organisations promoting the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) should have charitable status. They are seeking your views which you can supply by visiting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-complementary-and-alternative-medicines

Homeopathic and other CAM organisations are making submissions but the more received from the pro-CAM public the better.  Please respond to the consultation and take action now!  If you feel uncomfortable answering all of the questions just answer a few, something submitted is better than nothing!

As you will see, the focus of this  consultation is on the evidence for the effectiveness of CAM therapies.  Your submission should be your own, however here are a few helpful points.

  • there are many types of evidence that should be considered when evaluating the effectiveness of a therapy. These include scientific studies, patient feedback and the clinical experience of  doctors  who  have trained in a CAM discipline.  Within Homeopathy there is considerable evidence which can be found (https://www.hri-research.org)
  • many conventional therapies and drugs  have inconclusive evidence or prove to be useful in only some cases, for example SSRIs (anti-depressants).  Inconsistent evidence is often the result  of the complexity of both  the medical  condition being treated and the therapy being used. It is not indicative of a therapy that doesn’t work
  • removing all therapies or interventions that  have inconsistent or inconclusive evidence would seriously limit the  public and the medical profession’s  ability to help treat and ease patients suffering.
  • all over the world there are doctors, nurses, midwives, vets  and other healthcare professional  who integrate  CAM therapies into their daily  practice because they see effectiveness. They would not use these therapies if they  did  not see their patients  benefitting from them.  For example in the UK, within the NHS hospital setting, outcome studies demonstrate effectiveness of homeopathy. (http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/evidence/results-from-the-homeopathic-hospitals/)
  • practitioners of many CAM therapies belong to registering bodies which expect their members to comply to the highest professional standards in regards to training and practice
  • In the UK the producers and suppliers of  CAM treatments (homeopathy, herbal medicine etc) are strictly regulated
  • as well as  providing valuable information to the  growing  number of people seeking to use CAM as part of their healthcare, CAM charities frequently fund treatment for those people, particularly the elderly and those on a low income, whose health has benefitted from these therapies but who cannot  afford them. This meets the charity’s criterion of  providing a public benefit
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NHS Glasgow Centre for Integrative Care in-patient service

The proposal to close the in-patient service at the NHS Glasgow Centre for Integrative Care (CIC) has been designated a “minor service change” by the Scottish Health Council. This means NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde can close the ward without a full public consultation. The health board is meeting on 20 December to consider its decision. The in-patient service plays an important role in helping chronically ill people at the award-winning CIC, and your intervention is required to save it from being cut. Supporters of the CIC living in Scotland should write to:

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister: Firstminister@gov.scot
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health: CabSecHS@gov.scot
Aileen Campbell, Public Health Minister: MinisterPHS@gov.scot

Also, those living in Scotland should write or phone their local MSP asking them to speak up for the CIC on your behalf. You can find your MSP by entering your postcode on the Scottish Parliament website.

Public meeting

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is meeting on 20 December to decide the future of the CIC’s in-patient service. This public meeting is taking place in the:

William Quarrier Conference Centre
20 St Kenneth Drive
Govan
Glasgow
G51 4QD

Supporters of the CIC are planning to demonstrate outside the meeting from around 9 am. Join the demonstration and help defend this valuable service.

If you care about patient choice in healthcare and want to fight the cuts to health services, act immediately and make your voice heard before 20 December 2016!

For more information contact ghh_campaign@hotmail.com

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