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High Court upholds NHS England homeopathy prescribing ban

By Elisabeth Mahase
Clinical reporter, Pulse

06 Jun 2018

The High Court has rejected a legal challenge by the British Homeopathic Association (BHA) to overturn plans for the NHS to no longer routinely fund homeopathy.

NHS England welcomed the court victory, which comes after it published guidance to stop prescriptions for 18 low clinical priority treatments such as some dietary supplements, herbal treatments and homeopathy.

Chief executive Simon Stevens called the legal challenge ‘costly and spurious’, stating that homeopathy is a ‘misuse of scarce NHS funds’.

This follows recent research found that over 2,700 homeopathy prescriptions were issued by GP practices between December 2016 and May 2017, costing a total of £36,532.


Patients are ‘real losers’ 


In a post on its website, the BHA’s chair Margaret Wylie said: ‘That NHS England attracted fewer than 3,000 responses from patients to a national consultation [on banning regular prescribing of certain OTC products] that ran for three months highlights its failure to genuinely engage with the public on important decisions about healthcare provision.

‘It is important to remember that the real losers in this case are the patients who are now being refused a treatment on which they have come to depend.’


OTC crackdown


Alongside stopping homeopathy prescribing, NHS England has also clamped down on over-the-counter prescriptions.

Earlier this year it published a list of 35 minor, short-term conditions for which over the counter medicines should not routinely be prescribed, claiming that this could save around £100m a year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens responded to the court ruling, and said: ‘There is no robust evidence to support homeopathy which is at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds.

‘So we strongly welcome the High Court’s clear cut decision to kick out this costly and spurious legal challenge.’

Earlier this week, The Pharmacist reported that a Derbyshire pharmacy-led minor ailments scheme covering 132 pharmacies will be scrapped in favour of a county-wide self-care policy.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister publication Pulse

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