Quixotic Tory hopeful says we should trust our doctors…

March 22, 2010

…by rejecting the Science and Technology Committee evidence check’s superb conclusion that homeopathy “is not supported by evidence of efficacy and is therefore no more than a placebo treatment, albeit a popular one.” And more significantly:

110. The Government’s position on homeopathy is confused. On the one hand, it accepts that homeopathy is a placebo treatment. This is an evidence-based view. On the other hand, it funds homeopathy on the NHS without taking a view on the ethics of providing placebo treatments. We argue that this undermines the relationship between NHS doctors and their patients, reduces real patient choice and puts patients’ health at risk. The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.

111. We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths.


Phew, what a conclusion, it’s almost arousing. I love a man that can appraise evidence.

So, in this news piece on the lovely Annunziata’s queezy PR website, she voices her worries that “Their [Science and Technology Comittee] findings would prevent our doctors from using homeopathy as an option for NHS patients, making it only available to those who can afford to pay.” She isn’t alone in her concerns. But she certainly does have the most interesting name out of all these “dimwits”, and that might serve her well.

ooh Tory chic

She feels that patient choice is important. So do all of us I’d imagine, but as the STC’s commendable report notes: “patient choice must be informed choice.” And professor Ernst concurred with  “patient choice that is not guided by evidence is not choice but arbitrariness.”

Good show! There is patient choice, and then there is patient choice. And then there are homeopaths. They’re not hellspawn but they are not suitable for government and NHS endorsement either, and aren’t we making decisions unnecessarily difficult and risky for patients by offerring treatments that are shown to be non-efficacious (not to mention implausible) with the official sheen and happy bias seen on the NHS directory of CAM?

Her feeling that we must “trust our doctors dosn’t sit perfectly with the ideal of informed patient choice. To quote the STC again,

98.  …Medical practice used to be highly paternalistic, whereby the doctors would know what was best for patients and would prescribe whatever treatments they felt best. Today, doctors are trained to communicate with patients about their treatments and, while providing advice and guidance, ultimately enable patients to make informed choices…

Really, if you’ve not read it, and you’re interested in the issue, I reccommend it. Not only is the report refreshingly clear and exacting (no po-mo here fo sho), it’s pretty entertaining and taught me a thing or two.

I do wonder whether it’s worthwhile sending individual e-mails to people like our Annunziata. Clearly they have had a good experience with homeopathy and have misread causality -we’ve all done it- and all this talk of evidence and discrediting of their friendly, empathetic homeopaths might be upsetting or disagreeable to them. Also it took me bloody ages to write, I’m hungry!

So here’s an e-mail I sent her (is it patronising?), to which I will eagerly await a reply: http://wp.me/pRr5F-h