The Government responded on Monday – with a three-month consultation. So join in. Write to the Health Minister Ben Bradshaw at Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, SW1A 2NS. Write, on behalf of the NHS: “What I want for my 60th birthday is… the chance to provide medical, dental, and nursing care to all. And absolutely nothing else.”
So I did. I’m quite suggestible you see, and it doesn’t take much prompting for me to fire off a missive asking the government to spend our tax dollars wisely – or drop the ridiculous ID card idea. The government response to my email is below:
Thank you for your email of 30 June to the Department of Health about complementary and alternative medicines. I have been asked to reply and I am sorry for the delay in doing so.
The Department recognises that many people find complementary and alternative medicine helpful in alleviating the symptoms of certain illnesses, especially those illnesses for which orthodox medicine does not appear to offer a complete answer. We also appreciate the fact that the public is increasingly making use of complementary and alternative treatments and products, including homeopathy.
Decision-making on individual clinical interventions, whether orthodox or complementary treatments, is a matter for local NHS service providers and practitioners as they are best placed to know their community’s needs. In making such decisions, they have to take into account evidence for the safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness of any treatments, the availability of suitably qualified practitioners, and the needs of the individual patient. Clinical responsibility rests with the NHS professional who makes the decision to refer and who must therefore be able to justify any treatment they recommend.
Practice Based Commissioning enables the delegation of indicative budgets to practices for commissioning of services that best meet the needs of patients, including complementary and alternative health therapies. Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are responsible for ensuring that all services commissioned are of the required quality. PCTs often have specific policies on the extent to which patients can be given access to complementary and alternative therapies and, within these policies, it is open to GPs to give access to specific therapies, including homeopathy, where they consider it in the interests of the individual patient.
I hope this reply clarifies the Department’s position on this matter.
It looks to be roughly the same format as the email response I got when I contacted the DoH to complain about homeopathy on the NHS a while back (blogged here: D’oh!).
Incidentally, the 92nd Sceptics’ Circle is here at Lay Science: Sceptics’ Circle.