Friday, 28 September 2007

Victory for science and rational thought

Having blogged recently about the parliamentary campaign to retain NHS funding for homeopathic hospitals, this blogger was pleased beyond words to read that
Health bosses have recommended that NHS funding for a homeopathic hospital in
Kent should be stopped.

Particularly as the decision seems to have been taken on the basis of scientific evidence, not some populist, politically convenient pandering to woo-ism:
Spokeswoman Emma Burns said the move was because "the NHS has to decide the best
use of money on the evidence of clinical effectiveness".

Quite. This is how the NHS ought be run throughout, surely? Funding should be allocated to those areas which have proven therapeutic efficacy. Under the current government's regime, the absurd elevation of "choice" when it comes to patient care has resulted in significant funds being spent on the likes of sugar pills.

Having said this, I acknowledge that many folks feel ambivalent about the allocation of public funds to provide placebo, as shown by the interesting discussion developing following Prof. David Colquhoun's post on this very issue (Ben Goldacre, no less, feels that there's nothing wrong with issuing placebos to those who seek them). Fair enough point, but it's more about the principle in a sense. Even if the medical establishment permits the prescription of sugar pills, it does so acknowledging the lack of clinical efficacy thereof - so should the NHS provide other alternative therapies that only work on placebo effect, simply because they're apparently popular? Besides, if people want sugar pills, considering there really are no side effects, feel free - just don't use taxpayers' money to get them!

This sideline aside, the withdrawal of public funds for a homeopathic hospital is a real feather in the cap for scientific rigour and for evidence-based medicine - one hospital down, four to go...!


Dr* T said...

My MP, James Gray, was very non-committal and I reckon uninformed about the situation with NHS homeopathic funding. I'll have some smug satisfaction writing back to him regarding this matter.

teekblog said...

keep us posted Dr. T, i never got a reply from my MP so i might write back too!