01 July 2010
The NHS should stop funding homeopathy and it should no longer be marketed as a medicine in pharmacies on the ground that it is little more than ‘pernicious nonsense’, according to doctors at the annual conference of the BMA in Brighton.
BMA doctors committee vice–chair Tom Dolphin, who first proposed banning homeopathy in May, said: "I got into trouble for saying at the juniors conference that homeopathy is witchcraft."
Piling on criticism against homeopathy, Dolphin said: "I take that back and apologize to the witches I apparently offended by association. Homeopathy isn’t witchcraft – it is nonsense on stilts.
"It is pernicious nonsense that feeds into a rising wave of irrationality that threatens the hard won gains of the enlightenment, and the scientific method."
The BMA conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of stopping the commissioning or funding for homeopathic remedies or homeopathic hospitals in the health service. UK training posts in homeopathic hospitals should also be scrapped, the conference said.
Dolphin warned that society risked "sinking back into a state of magical thinking, where made–up science passes for rational discourse, and wishing for something to be true counts as proof." He said there had been over 100 clinical trials of homeopathy and there was no proof that it worked.
Shropshire–based doctor Mary McCarthy said: "We are not asking for homeopathy to be stopped and it will allow those who want to do it to continue to use it. What we are asking is that it’s not funded by the scarce NHS resources."
She said there was no evidence from hundreds of trials that homeopathy worked beyond the placebo effect, in which a patient gets better but only because they believe the treatment will work and their symptoms clear up because of the psychological boost. She added: "It can do harm by diverting patients from conventional medical treatments."