NHS chief blasts homeopathy for fuelling antivaxx mythsNachelle Geronimo
NHS chief Simon Stevens blasts homoeopathy as ‘dangerous’ and blames the industry for fuelling antivaxx myths.
- Simon Stevens has urged medical watchdog to de-list Society of Homeopaths
- Described some homoeopaths as ‘chancers’ who con public to part with money
- But the group says it does not promote any treatment contrary to NHS guidance
The head of the NHS today launches an outspoken attack on the homoeopathy industry for peddling deadly anti-vaccine myths.
Simon Stevens accuses practitioners of spreading toxic ‘misinformation’ about jabs, which poses ‘a significant danger to human health’.
In a key intervention, he urges the medical watchdog to de-list the Society of Homeopaths from its official register of professional organisations, saying the body’s inclusion sends a message to patients that homoeopathic remedies are as safe and effective as clinically-tested medicines.
NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens (pictured) has launched an outspoken attack on the homoeopathy industry.
Mr Stevens describes some homoeopaths as ‘chancers’ who are conning the public to part with ‘their hard-earned cash’. He also warns that some therapists are pushing ineffective ‘homoeopathic vaccines’ which leave patients exposed to deadly diseases such as measles.
But the Society of Homeopaths – the UK’s largest group of registered practitioners – insists it does not promote any treatment contrary to NHS guidance, including vaccinations.
Mr Stevens’ intervention comes two weeks after the Mail launched a major campaign to improve the uptake of childhood immunisations.
On Saturday, this newspaper revealed that retail giant Amazon was printing and selling a controversial children’s book which claims vaccinations are dangerous and useless.
Homoeopathy is the 220-year-old principle of using highly diluted substances – such as plants or animal tissue – which practitioners claim encourage the body to heal itself. Prince Charles has been a vocal supporter of the practice for decades and in June, became patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy, another organisation dedicated to its promotion.
But there is no firm evidence homoeopathy works and two years ago, the NHS told GPs to stop prescribing the remedies, claiming they were a ‘misuse of resources’.
Nonetheless, there are still hundreds of practitioners across the UK, including 1,200 who are registered with the Society of Homeopaths.
NHS chief executive Mr Stevens has today written to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), urging it not to re-accredit the society in its annual review.
The PSA is the official regulator of healthcare and oversees bodies including the General Medical Council, for doctors, and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Daily Mail Campaign: Give The Children Their Jabs
In his letter, Mr Stevens says he has ‘serious concerns’ about the society’s inclusion because the practice of homoeopathy remained ‘fundamentally flawed.’
He said its accreditation would give a ‘false impression’ to patients that homoeopathic remedies are as trusted as the treatments used by doctors, nurses and other professionals on the register.
‘This is a vital issue at a time when there is a rise of misinformation about vaccines – some of which is apparently promoted by homoeopaths – and which poses a significant danger to human health,’ he adds.
Emphasising his point last night, Mr Stevens said: ‘Anything that gives homoeopathy a veneer of credibility risks chancers being able to con more people into parting with their hard-earned cash in return for bogus treatments which at best do nothing, and at worst can be potentially dangerous.’
The Society of Homeopathy’s official stance on vaccinations is that homoeopaths should not advise patients against the use of jabs, as this would be ‘unethical’.
But Mr Stevens is concerned that many homoeopaths are independently peddling anti-vaccine myths to patients.
The PSA, which reviews the accreditation of all organisations on its register every 12 months, said it would not comment on any ‘live cases’ involving ‘applications under assessments’.
But Michael Marshall, of pro-science charity Good Thinking, said: ‘Any organisation or any practitioner who is spreading anti-vax myths is particularly dangerous right now.’
The Mail is urging the Government to launch a mass publicity drive advocating the safety of vaccines.
Belief that the body can heal itself
Samuel Hahnemann developed homoeopathy in the late 18th century.
Homoeopathy was developed in the late 18th century by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, who was dissatisfied with the medicine of his day.
The basic beliefs behind homoeopathy are that the body can cure itself and that ‘like cures like’.
In other words, something that brings on symptoms in a healthy person can – in a very small dose – treat an illness with similar symptoms, by triggering the body’s natural defences.
For example, red onion makes your eyes water. That’s why it is used in homoeopathic remedies for allergies.
Dr Hahnemann published an overview of his new medical system in his 1810 book, The Organon of the Healing Art, whose sixth edition, published in 1921, is still used today.
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