independentThe NHS needs to cut its budget. One target is unnecessary surgeries, and don’t get me wrong they exist. The Independent is reporting that Chief of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh,  has called one in seven hospital procedures unnecessary, stated that waste is “profligate” and indicates that 5% of hospital admissions are also unnecessary.

Knowing what I know about medicine I suspect there are many knee arthroscopies that are simply not needed, hysterectomies that could be prevented with hormonal management and/or weight loss, and MRIs that are simply not needed for low back pain just to name a few. To fix this it takes surgeons being up to date and getting rid of the mindset that I have to “do something.” It also takes patients willing to try something that doesn’t seem like a “quick fix.”

However, there is a service that if cut off today could eliminate £4 million  from the NHS budget,  homeopathy. Yes, the NHS spends roughly £4 million a year for therapy as effective as witchcraft, palm reading, and phrenology.

Now I know that the £4 million is making a small dent in the £4 billion or so the NHS needs to cut from its budget annually for the next 5 years, but it’s a pretty good start. After all, waste is waste and what is more wasteful than a therapy that is 100% ineffective?

Spending money on homeopathy under the guise of medical care is an obscenity and the very definition of waste. If people want snake oil they should have to get it themselves.

So yes Sir Bruce work on the surgeries and procedures and admissions but for goodness sake dump the homeopathy. Spending even £1 on something the NHS calls “implausible” and “no better than placebo” while bemoaning unnecessary procedures is a bit ironic, don’t you think?


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  1. £4 million is a flea bite out of the total NHS budget of about £114 billion. But still.

    There is even a Royal Homoeopathic Hospital (in London) which is paid for by the NHS, that is, the taxpayer—though it’s now re-branded as the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and offers the “best” of homoeopathic and “conventional” treatments. And along with the ‘Royal’ moniker, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Heir to the throne, when he’s not talking to his trees, and giving them a hug, has been an enthusiastic supporter of alternative therapies including homoeopathy. With such support, it seems likely that the taxpayer will continue to finance this nonsense.

    Meanwhile, Edzard Ernst, the first Professor of Complementary Medicine at Exeter Uni has recently published his memoirs (A Scientist in Wonderland). He subjected complementary treatments to scientific investigation…I think you can guess what the results were.

  2. Question is whether the placebo effect of the homeopathic treatment warrants the £4M…. potentially it could…

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