DH blocked NHS Direct statement on homeopathy

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PoW The Department of Health blocked NHS Direct from telling the public that there is “no good quality clinical evidence” to show that homeopathy is more than a placebo.

It also removed a reference to a 2010 report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that recommended the NHS stop prescribing homeopathic remedies.

This intervention followed lobbying by the Foundation for Integrated Health, an ‘alternative medicine’ charity set up by the Prince of Wales.

The NHS Choices website is commissioned by the DH from the private company Capita, and is meant to guide patient choices on health and treatment.

Communications obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the writer of the NHS Choices article on homeopathy was asked to meet with the Foundation for Integrated Health.

Following this, the draft guidance was edited by civil servants to take account of the views of a Foundation representative.

The statement that many independent experts would say “there is no good quality clinical evidence to show that homeopathy is more successful than placebo” was deleted.

So was the observation: “If the principles of homeopathy were true it would violate all the existing theories of science that we make use of today.” This is particularly significant for the pharmaceutical industry, as homeopathy denies the need for an active ingredient.

NHS Choices protested to the DH, calling the censored version “a serious gap in the information we provide for the public.”

David Mattin, the editor of the homeopathy article, commented: “The whole episode is an insight into the way special interest groups can influence the workings of government and the public sector, simply by making a lot of noise and having a few powerful friends.”